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What To Eat in Crete

August 18, 2021
What do you know about Greek food? That it's delicious? Of course! That it's rich? Yes! That it's flavorful? You're right on the nose! There's a lot of great things to say about this country's cuisine, so much so that half of why traveling to Greece is so worthwhile is getting to taste its awesome food. But do note, however, that the food in one part of the country isn't the same as all the others. Take Crete, for instance, which is one of the bigger Greek Islands. This paradise offers a few delicacies that feature tastes and flavors that are all the island's own!

What To Eat in Crete


Cretan Cheeses

You can't go to Greece, or any other European country for that matter, without eating cheese. From the French to the Swiss, this continent sure does love cheese. And yes, even on the beautiful island of Crete in Greece, they have their own unique selection of the dairy delicacy. Usually made out of sheep's or goat's milk, they offer the true flavors of the island. There's Graviera, for instance, which is a sweet type of cheese that only gets better with age. Myzithra, on the other hand, has a mild flavor that works well on its own.
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Kalitsounia (Cretan Cheese Pies)

While simply slicing up these Cretan cheeses and pairing them with wine is good enough, the locals here have something else in mind. You'll find that, in various towns in Crete, bakers, mothers, and grandmothers all Kalitsounia, also known as Cretan cheese pies. A sort of empanada filled with cheese, it's a popular snack and comfort food on the island. And while most cheese pies are often savory, Kalitsounia are mostly sweet, especially when filled with either mizithra or malaka cheese. On a lazy afternoon, they make for a great treat to pair a cup of coffee with, especially when they're drizzled with honey!
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Get The Recipe By Clicking Here


Sfakianes Pites

It's no secret that pita bread is a major mainstay in Greek cuisine. They dip in various sauces, put all sorts of filling in them, and at times, simply eat them as they are. Here in Crete, particularly in the southern part of the island, they have their own variation called 'Sfakianes Pites.' Made with a little bit of raki, it has a slightly heavier taste but it's still light overall. As to what they pair these pies with, the southern Cretans often eat them with cheese, honey, or even both. The mix of sweet and savory tastes makes for an exciting mouthful!
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Get The Recipe By Clicking Here


Hirina Apakia (Smoked Pork)

Who knew that pork would be such a common delicacy among the islands in the Mediterranean? In Sardinia, Italy, for example, a whole entire roasted suckling pig called Porcetto Arrosto is one of their main local dishes. Here in Crete, on the other hand, it's smoked pork called Hirina Apakia. What's so fascinating about it is that it takes multiple days to prepare it just right. You have to marinate it in vinegar for a period of time, then cook it over a fire that burns with herbs such as rosemary, sage, and bay. This will certainly bring out its flavor!
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Lamb with Stamnagathi

Similarly with any other place in Greece. lamb is also a common delicacy here in Crete. But, of course, the way they serve it is truly all their own. On the island of Crete, you'll find that in many great restaurants here, they serve lamb with Stamnagathi. It's a kind of wild green that's grown on the island, sauteed in olive oil and oregano to bring out its earthy flavor. Once set with the lamb, the entire dish is then drenched in mouthwatering avgolemono sauce or simply doused in lemon zest.
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Get The Recipe By Clicking Here


Gamopilafo

What many of you might think of as rice pudding, the Cretans call 'Gamopilafo.' Commonly served during weddings here, this is a light risotto dish that has a meaty taste despite not having any meat in it at all. That's because the broth of the dish, often made out of the simmering of a chicken, goat, lamb, and the like, gives it its flavor. Add to that boiled fresh goat’s milk and some lemon zest and you've got yourself a whirlwind of flavors with every spoonful. It's no wonder they serve such a dish at weddings!
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Flickr.com/ Robert

Get The Recipe By Clicking Here


Raki

Finally, you can't forget the raki! Whether it's an important Greek holiday or just an ordinary day in general, you can bet that the Cretans are scarfing down bottles of raki. This Greek wine, a sort of brandy that's distilled from local grapes, is the most common beverage next to water. In fact, a lot of the older Cretans practically treat it as water, drinking it day to night and with every meal. And since Greek social customs dictate that it's often rude to refuse food and drink offered to you, you're expected to drink raki while you're here as well!
What To Eat in Crete
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you thought that Crete was simply another old Greek Island out there, you're sadly mistaken. The food on the island alone proves that Crete has its own identity. The locals here embrace, preserve, and share their own culture, and boy is it delicious!

The great thing about local Crete food is that many of them are also easy to make in your own luxury home here! Why not try making them yourself and see how they turn out?




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