The largest and southernmost of the Greek islands combines the best elements of East and West in its culinary traditions and the coexistence of Greeks and Turks has influenced the culinary habits of both peoples. Here people use yogurt in cooking and baking, and many common dishes have Turkish names.
While most of the citizens of Greece drink OUZO the citizens of Crete drink RAKI.
What is OUZO?
Ouzo is a clear alcohol somewhat like a liqueur, tastes of licorice and turns cloudy when water is added.Ouzo is a sweet, strong alcoholic beverage similar to a liqueur, which is made from the by-products of grapes after they’ve been used for wine-making (mainly the skins and stems). It’s then distilled into a high-proof alcoholic beverage that’s flavored primarily with anise, which gives it a distinctive licorice taste. Other herbs and spices are added to enhance the flavor, and each manufacturer keeps its recipe a closely guarded secret. Both the quality of the distillation process and the flavorings make each brand of ouzo very different in taste.
Raki is an unsweetened, occasionally anise-flavored liqueur that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Iran, Turkic countries and in the Balkan countries as an aperitif. It is often served with seafood or meze (appetizers).
Rakı is rarely consumed without the addition of water. Ice cubes are often added. Dilution with water causes rakı to turn a milky-white color, similar to the louche of absinthe. This phenomenon has resulted in the drink being popularly referred to aslan sütü ("lion's milk").
Horta—wild leafy greens harvested from the hills and fields since antiquity—play a very important role in the everyday table of Crete and are cooked in more creative ways than anywhere else in Greece. NOTE: IN THE RECIPES HORTA IS NOT USED AS WE CAN'T EASILY FIND IT HERE IN THE US. You can use dandelion greens, spinach, kale or your favorite green. For wild chervil (Amazon doesn't have it) I would just use chervil even though the taste wouldn't be as strong. Kafkalithres (Mediterranean hartwort)(from Wikipedia) is in the celery, carrot or parsley family. It is the 16th-largest family of flowering plants, with more than 3,700 species in 434 genera including such well-known and economically important plants such as angelica, anise, asafoetida, caraway, carrot, celery, chervil, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, cow parsley, parsley, parsnip, seal holly, giant, hogweek and silphium
(a plant whose identity is unclear and which may be extinct).
While horta LINK to horta foraging are usually blanched or steamed, in Crete they serve a
unique raw salad of different greens—bitter, sweet, tangy,
and succulent—simply drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.
a lemony stew of mixed greens with onions, ramps, wild fennel,
THE HILLS AND MOUNTAINS OF
CRETE ARE ALSO FRAGRANT WITH AROMATIC HERBS. SOME ARE UNIQUE TO THIS ISLAND,
LIKE MALOTYR OR MOUNTAIN TEA (SIDERITIS CRETICA), AND
THE VERY FRAGRANT DIKTAMO (ORIGANUM DICTAMUS), WHICH
ARE BREWED IN BOILING WATER AND ENJOYED AFTER A MEAL, IN THE MORNING, OR AS
THERAPEUTIC INFUSION FOR ALL KINDS OF AILMENTS. SOME BELIEVE THAT DIKTAMO IS AN
APHRODISIAC, AND LOCALS OFTEN CALL IT ERONDA (LOVE POTION).
vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and green beans ripen early on this fertile island, and
there are an increasing number of organic farms—you will be amazed by the
quality of the local produce at the markets.
are strongly aromatic, with plenty of wild fennel. The phyllo of Crete is
made from a very interesting dough that contains lemon juice, olive oil, and a
fair amount of raki —the strong grappalike
home-distilled alcoholic drink of the island.
ribbons of phyllo, are an addictive sweet, drizzled with honey and sprinkled
with almonds and other nuts.
Goats and sheep have been herded in Crete for thousands of
years, and the island has a long tradition of cheese-making. Kefalotiri,
intensely flavored sheep's and goat's milk cheese, is available in various
stages of ripening.The
semisoft anthotyro (also spelled "anthotyri") of
Crete (not to be confused with the ricottalike cheese of the same name sold in
Athens) is a unique strong and fragrant yet salty-sweet and creamy cheese,
made mostly from goat's milk. It is only available on the island and is not a
DOC cheese, although it is considered it one of the best in Greece.
or slightly sour, fresh ricotta-like creamy cheese.
native to this region: Archanes dry red (from Kotsifali and Mandhilaria
grapes), Dafnes sweet and dry red (from Liatiko), dry and a sweet red (from
Kotsifali and Mandhilaria), and a fruity white (from Vilana grapes).