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Local cuisine (2)
If customs have endured the passage of time and remained unchanged
despite the development of alternatives, then these have met all the needs and
there is no reason to change them. This has been the case regarding Cretan gastronomy,
which, despite the long-term presence of various conquerors on the island, has
remained unaffected and original. At first sight one could say that Cretan cuisine
is simple, including only a few specific dishes. This is true since the secret
of Cretan cooking lies in the simplicity of preparation and of the use of only
few ingredients, which are plain, precise, clear and, most important, genuine
and natural.This applies to the entire island with only very few variations in
Naturally the Cretans developed their diet based on the produce, which
could be supplied in the area they lived in. Such produce guaranteed the locals
both the basic and complete nutrition, which today is recognised as being essential
for the proper development of the body as well as for a long life span. Principally,
all over Crete people eat various species of wild vegetable, which grow in mountainous
areas, either as salad or simply boiled, topping it with local olive oil and natural
lemon juice. However, people not only collect wild vegetable, but also the famous
snails, which are either cooked with tomato sauce or fried, "boumbourista", that
is with rosemary and quenched with wine. Most products needed for proper nutrition
come from stockbreeding, which has flourished in the mountainous areas of Crete
since ancient times.
Sheep and goats supply both the famous meat,
which is also the basic dish of the Cretan menu, and dairy products, of which
the island boasts a large variety including excellent milk, various cheeses such
as Myzithra, Graviera and Feta as well as the unique 'stakoboutyro' (butter from
sheep and/or goat's milk) which is used for pilaff. Apart from sheep and goats
each family living in a village also breeds domestic animals such as chickens
and rabbits, which provide them with eggs and meat on an everyday basis.
Undoubtedly, the local olive oil adds to the special flavour of all
Cretan dishes. Together with stockbreeding the production of olive oil represents
one of the island's main sources of income. Olive oil is used for cooking and
as a dressing for salads, fresh vegetables and pulses, which in combination with
the local barley rusk and a few olives often make a complete dish for the Cretan.
The famous Cretan 'dakos' is simply this - a delicious and nourishing combination
of fresh local products including barley rusks, grated tomatoes, feta cheese,
oil and salt.
As a dessert the Cretans once again prefer home-made sweets consisting
of ingredients of their own production: cheese pies made from Myzithra and brown
fried pastry with honey.
- Rethymno Prefecture Tourism Committee WebPage
The visitor can taste in the taverns of the area the great variety
of flavour of the traditional cooking of Crete. The wide range of vegetables and
greenstuffs (stamnagathi, avronies, radikia, glistrida askorthilakous, askolimbrous,
bulbs). Delicacies such as omathies, apakia, siglina, garthoumia, the cretan rice,
kaltsounia, spinach-pie, Sfakian-pie). During your stay you will encounter first-handed
the hospitality of the simple people of the countryside. Here everybody continues
in many ways to live with the old ways and customs, with the habits and beliefs
of the older generations.
This text (extract) is cited February 2004 from the Municipality
of Lappes tourist pamphlet.