As a part of Cretan hospitality so famous, very old eating habits have developed in Crete ... Oil, wheat, wine, dairy products, honey, herbs and aromatic plants are the basis of Cretan cuisine. The famous "Cretan diet" (which is anything but absolutely NOT a diet ...) has been studied extensively throughout the world. The conclusions are quite revealing. They attest to the tremendous benefits of Cretan food for the health of the island's inhabitants and the low incidence of various diseases compared to other areas of the globe.
Because of its unique biodiversity and its very particular climatic conditions, Crete is a place that promotes the cultivation of excellent green vegetables and native wild grasses. These, added to the pastoral products, have shaped the eating habits of the Cretans for centuries. The three essential keys: the consumption of quality olive oil, very large quantities of vegetables and little meat. Pure ingredients, simple recipes, the use of seasonal products, artisanal bread and minimal processing.
But the Cretan Diet is also a way of life: basic social values and customs such as hospitality (filotimo), family life, participation in village life, letting go ...
What is the impact of nutrition on longevity?
According to the results of the 7 countries study (led by Ancel KEYS), Crete has the lowest mortality rate for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The quality of food, but also that of the environment and the absence of stress contribute to the excellence of the famous "CRETAN DIET", which is anything but a diet !
Cretan consumes twice as much fat as other inhabitants of the Mediterranean, and 3 times more than the American. But it is the VIRGIN OLIVE OIL. No other consumption of animal or vegetable fat.
Olive oil provides 35% of daily energy needs. They are supplemented by a large consumption of cereals, fresh or dried vegetables and fruits. The very high consumption of wild herbs and spices completes the whole. (very little meat, goat's milk and fish).
Honey is one of the most consumed products in Crete. It has always been consumed in Crete. Attests a pendant, discovered near Malia, representing two bees face to face. Honey replaces sugar in Cretan cuisine. The best are honeys of thyme and pine.
18 products from Cretan agriculture and breeding, as well as 12 local wines have already received the Protected Designation (A.O.P) and Protected Geographical Indication (I.G.P) labels.
Annual consumption of olive oil per people (in liter)
- Finland: 0.2
- Japan: 0.6
- United States: 1,2
- France: 2.5
- Spain: 10
- Crete: 34
According to the mythology, Rhea hid her son Zeus in the Cretan mountains, to prevent him from being swallowed by Chronos. The child survived thanks to the milk of the goat named Amalthée. Since then, flocks of goats are free and pampered in Crete ! Cretan dairy products are of exceptional quality, as well as meat.
We can mention : the graviera, (sheep's milk), the anthotiros, (mizithra), very thin and often served at the beginning of the meal, or to stuff the kalitsounias, the staka (crust formed by sheep's milk). .
Dictamus of Crete or "Origanum Dictamum" is a Cretan endemic plant with fluffy leaves of pale green color and small purple flowers. It grows on the rugged mountains of the island, where only experienced herbalists harvest it.
⦁ Medicinal properties:
In ancient times, Cretans attributed to this plant the power to heal wounded goats, and to alleviate pain during childbirth and menstruation. Today it is given tonic, digestive, diuretic, antiseptic and even aphrodisiac properties ! In local use, this oregano is used to heal wounds and bruises, by making poultices with crushed flowers.
But it is especially to calm heartburn, digestive cramps, headaches, and nausea that is used in the form of a pleasant infusion to be consumed at any time (4 to 15g of flowers). Dictame for 0.5L of water).
⦁ Culinary properties:
In the kitchen, it is a very fragrant herb, which can be mixed with parsley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, for all kinds of dishes made according to the criteria of the Cretan diet of course! consume without moderation!