Cretan cuisine


The core of the Cretan cuisine consists of food derived from natural sources, whereas food of animal origin was more peripheral in nature. In general, people consumed seasonal products, available in the wider local area, which underwent minimal processing or none at all. The traditional cuisine was widespread in the island until the 1960s when, with improving living standards, alimentary patterns changed towards more meat and other animal-derived produce.

Fresh fruit and dried fruits, pulses, endemic wild herbs and aromatic plants, and rough cereals, whose cultivation was favored by the regional climate, were consumed in great amounts and constituted the base of the Cretan cuisine during that period. Dairy products were consumed on a daily basis in low to moderate quantities. Poultry and fish were consumed on a weekly basis in moderate quantities, whereas red meat was consumed only a few times a month. The main supply of fat was effectuated by olive oil, which was used not only in salads but also in cooking, unlike the northern European countries which primarily used animal fat. Another essential feature of the Cretan cuisine was the moderate use of alcohol, mainly red wine which accompanied meals. Finally, the most common dessert was yogurt and fresh fruits, while traditional pastry based on honey had been consumed a few times a week.


The Cretan dietary pattern

Today the Cretan Diet and the local products claim the position and the recognition they deserve. In view of continuous food scandals and the threatening dimensions of the harmful effects of the modern demanding way of life on human health, the adoption of the principles of the Cretan dietary pattern is deemed to be necessary, both for young ages and adults.

The Cretan Nutrition involves a general way of life and we should not ignore the factors that have probably contributed to its beneficial effects:

  • Physical activity,
  • Fixed meal times and
  • The fact that meals used to be a pleasant social experience, in contrast to the large number of people who consume food in front of the TV, which is a habit associated with overconsumption of food.

Today, promoting the superiority of “the Cretan dietary pattern” is a strong competitive advantage for Crete. As societies and economies develop, it is more important than ever that people inside and outside the island return to a healthy dietary pattern based on local, quality products, which constitute the healthiest nutrition worldwide.

Source: Region of Crete site

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The Island Cooking of Crete

The Culinary Institute of America