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. Also the Crete culinery delights are part of the generic term of the Mediterranean Diet.
Cretan cuisine is the traditional meal choice 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.
All Natural Ingredients grown or raised on the Island of Crete
Fresh and dried fruits, pulses, endemic wild herbs and aromatic plants, and rough cereals, whose cultivation was favoured by the regional climate, and were traditionally consumed in great amounts and constituted the base of the Cretan cuisine during the earlier periods. Dairy products, mainly sheep and goats 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. Meat was a sign of wealth in the population.
Three Essential Groups of Dietary Intake for the Balanced Cretan Diet
- FATS - The main source of fat intake was effectuated through olive oil, which was used not only in salads but also in cooking.
- LOCAL WINE - Another essential feature of the Cretan cuisine was the moderate use of alcohol, mainly red wine which accompanied meals.
- FRESH FRUITS + DESSERTS - Finally, the most common dessert comprised fresh fruits. Traditional pastries based on copious amounts of delicious local honey from herbs was limited to 2-3 times a week, due to its rich nature. None the less, such desserts were a favourite among Cretans with a sweet tooth.
The Beneficial Role of the Use of Olive Oil
Olive Oil has been produced fopr thousands of years. Crete and Syria are the two locales credited with grInitially, the protective and beneficial effect of the Cretan cuisine on human health was attributed to its high mono-unsaturated fat content. This is identified and attributed to the daily use of olive oil, firstly and secondly to the low intake of 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.
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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.