cretan nectar & ambrosia
One of the biggest contributions of Crete to mankind is the Cretan diet, which is believed to be the most important component of the Mediterranean diet.
The longevity of the Cretan people along with the lowest mortality rate is mostly due to their diet, the roots of which are as old as time itself.
Cretans eat whatever their land offers them: fruit, wild greens, vegetables, pulses, dairy products and bread.
Dishes are seasoned with wonderful herbs, sweetened with honey or must and accompanied with exquisite local wine.
Meat does not account for a large part of their daily diet. The combinations in the Cretan diet model provide the ideal balance of natural products that supply man with all the nutrients needed to be healthy.
Nowadays, throughout Crete, Cretans are striving to preserve the dietary habits of their ancestors and to bequeath them to the modern world.
The virgin olive oil is of exceptional quality and the backbone of their diet and it is produced by the simple crushing of the olive, without flavourings and enhancing additives, making it beneficial to the heart and the proper function of many vital organs.
Wine, the irreplaceable accompaniment to a meal and the element of comradeship, is derived from local varieties totally in tune with the climatic conditions of the island and is rich in antioxidants.
Its cultivation reaches as far as 4000 years back. The aromatic plants and herbs are a part of important time honoured traditions, with many therapeutic qualities and uses in the practice of medicine, the seasoning of food and infusions.
Despite the fact that Cretans do not consume large amounts of milk, they make up for it in their consumption of cheeses such as graviera, kefalograviera, anthotiro, mizithra, and staka which are important sources of calcium and protein of high nutritional value produced from the milk of goats and sheep which free -graze on wild grass and Cretan herbs.
Finally, apiculture (beekeeping) is based on keeping and breeding bees in areas with endemic vegetation and aromatic plants, while the process of extracting honey is done in a natural way without high temperatures which promote the degradation of vitamins.
Try the inexhaustible varieties of Cretan "ambrosia": dako, snails bourbouristous (floured snails which are then fried), staka, mizithra, graviera, kaltsounia (cheese pies), sea urchin salad, kakavia, local, wild rifi (young goat) and rabbit.
Take delight in the "nectar" that the Cretan vineyards offer so wholeheartedly and help your digestion with some chilled tsikoudia (raki) and some warm eronda.
Legend has it that even the father of the Gods, Zeus, was brought up on the mountain of Idi on "nectar and ambrosia" from the Cretan land.