And I am not one to disappoint.
My Minotaur Buddy
Stand tall, bull man!
Dear reader, the food in Crete is amazing. The things you get from street vendors are nice (one could get used to having Pita Gyros for lunch), but in order to get the full effect you have to get a little off the obvious tourist path.
We had the good fortune to be taken by some Greeks to two very nice Cretan restaurants. Eating out is a little disorienting until you get used to the idea that everyone eats supper very late. We’d show up at a restaurant at 8:30 or 9 and it wouldn’t be open yet.
I must say the mode of dining is pretty ideal if you, like me, want to try everything. Typically, you order eight or ten different dishes, and they just bring them to you a few at a time as they are ready.
First you’d get things like bread and salad and baked feta cheese, and maybe some seafood. Mid-ways you’d have things like fried mushrooms or an omelet made with potatoes. Eventually you’d get to the meat (mostly pork, lamb or beef), which is prepared very simply: slightly salted and fried in olive oil. The flavor is brought out in ways you just don’t get when you do a lot of fancy things to your dinner.
I drank a fair bit of Cretan red wine (4 euros – approx. $6 – for a bottle! In a restaurant! Try to find that in Canada). I’m not a big wine snob, but I can tell you that it was quite smooth and tasty.
As if that wasn’t enough, they’d bring us a locally produced liqueur called “raki” with our desert. It’s made from the parts of grapes that are left over from wine production, and served very cold.
Someone told us that the average Greek consumes 200 liters of olive oil a year. The Greeks certainly eat very well, and yet there’s hardly a person over weight. I think the key is some combination of eating fresh foods (I saw only one McDonalds anywhere on the island), exercise, and not snacking between meals. It’s good to know that it is possible to eat large portions of very flavorful food as part of a healthy lifestyle. “The Cretan Diet” should be the next fad.