Cretan Cuisine – A synonym of Mediterranen diet

Cretan Cuisine - A synonim of Mediterranean diet

Crete, the largest greek island, is famous all over the world for its ancient culture and its unique natural beauties and that is why is among the top tourist destinations for the summer but for the winter as well.

Chania is nominated multiple times as one of the best places to live and work in Europe. The place has to offer so much, from cosy spots to natural and virgin places that can be ideal cases for eco-tourism.

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We could say that tourism is the heavy industry of the place but, Crete still maintains a significant percentage of its population, working in the primary sector, mainly oil, vineyards and wine, dynamic crops (early vegetables),  livestock farming and cheese-making. 

Mainland is also the region with the largest number of PDO and PGI products in Greece (18 out of 101 throughout the country). If we could choose some of the most important products of the Cretan land could be

  • olive oil and oil in general, grapes, citrus and a variaty of frouits.
  • for sure wine and tsikoudia has a special place in daily table, 
  • dairy, apaki, the sour sausages, breads and nuts.

My personal favorite are thyme honey, stamnagathi, wild herbs and aromatic plants. 

Cretan diet today is known all over the world and you it is very likely that you follow it also. 

It has attracted the interest of the scientific community since 1948, when the Rockefeller Foundation conducted research in Crete on the diet that would be the model of Mediterranean Cuisine, which in 2012 was recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

Olive oil is indeed the biggest secret of the Cretan diet and the longevity of the Cretans. The Cretan land is a botanical paradise with over 1700 species of plants, of which 159 are endemic. Cretan cuisine uses herbs and especially oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint, cumin and fennel, while Cretans love to brew malotira (mountain tea), diktamo, sage (faskomilo), marjoram and chamomile. 


From the dozens of recipes of the island, the most characteristic dishes of the Cretan cuisine are:

in salads and vegetables “ntakos” (rusks, tomatoes, oil, oregano), artichokes, broad beans, askolymbros, stamnagathia. 

In meat, Cretans love snails that are cooked in various ways (burbouri snails, stew, with artichokes, with wild greens, with beans, etc.). 

Lambs are baked opposite (antikristo) or baked in the oven or even cooked with artichokes, fried or fricassee with stamnagathi) while the boiled goat is accompanied by spaghetti or pilaf (the so-called wedding pilaf). 

 Photo: giedrius_b/Shutterstock


A special recipe with meat is the Kreatopita (Chania meta pie), made with four cheeses, lamb and mint. The sausages of Crete (in the area Chania and Rethymnon are vinegar) and apaki (smoked and vinegar meat) are two typical products of the island that are made by several producers. In pasta and pastries, Crete has a wide variety of proposals.

The Sfakian pies and the sweet mizithropitakia are the emblematic Cretan pies, followed by the pirakia with fennel, the sarikopita, the Hanioti pie, the boureki, the kaltsouni, the xerotigana, the petimezopita and the bougatsa. The Cretans make their own pasta (such as sioufika spaghetti, mangiri, noodles).

Some will notice that in the whole article we haven’t mentioned something about fish, but, maybe because of the size of Crete, Cretans have forgotten that are living in an island and not getting very well with the specific subject.

cretan cuisine

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