We appreciate that the traditional Cretan diet is known as being one of the healthiest in the world. Several studies have been carried out to test the effect of Cretan cuisine on human health. The island had attracted the attention of the scientific community as early as 1948.
Cretan cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Mediterranean island of Crete.
The core of the 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. Many villages still retain the old cooking techniques. These are also to be found in the family-run eateries across the island.
Fresh and dried fruits, pulses, endemic wild herbs and aromatic plants, and rough cereals, whose cultivation was favoured 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. 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 fresh fruits, while traditional pastry based on honey had been consumed a few times a week.
Initially, the protective effect of the Cretan cuisine for human health was attributed to its high monounsaturated fat content, due to the daily use of olive oil, as well as to low saturated fat, due to the low consumption of red meat. Today it is recognized that this particular nutritional scheme possesses important additional features, providing the necessary micro-constituents (i.e. vitamins and minerals), being rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, vegetable fibers, antioxidants and various photochemical elements, which have significant influence on several body functions, and a beneficial effect on health.
So now we will look at the actual recipes used in Crete and the wider area of Greece, if you have a favourite recipe that you would like published in Brits in Crete Cretan Cuisine section, please send it to us, and we will publish it for you and attach to it you full accreditation and link to your website.