Since ancient times, people on the island have been consuming local products. The Mediterranean diet, which is based on herbs, legumes, meat, fish, honey, dairy products, and wine, is celebrated in Crete. The Cretan traditional cuisine is simple and inventive and is based on the endless variety of Cretan endemic products. What is never missing from the Cretan cuisine is olive oil, wheat or barley dusks, and of course raki, which is a local traditional alcoholic drink.
Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from olives (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by pressing whole olives.
It is commonly used in cooking, whether for frying or as a salad dressing. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and has additional uses in some religions. There is limited evidence of its possible health benefits.
The olive is one of three core food plants in Mediterranean cuisine; the other two are wheat and grapes.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose and has about the same relative sweetness as sucrose (granulated sugar). It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a distinctive flavor when used as a sweetener. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey, so sealed honey does not spoil, even after thousands of years.
Honey provides 64 calories in a serving of one tablespoon equivalent to 1272 kJ per 100 g.
Raki is the name of the traditional spirituous liquor of Crete and the favorite drink of the Cretans. It is distilled using natural ingredients with no additives. The raw material used is the grape pomace (strafyla), that is, the residue of the pressing of fresh grapes. The boiler is heated and when it reaches the correct temperature the distillate is collected. This first distillate is called “protoraki” (first raki) and is rather strong with an intense aroma. The spirit itself is certainly worth trying; however, the whole distillation process is also of particular interest
The Mediterranean climate of Crete endows Cretan products with unique taste. Thus, the opulent yield of the island includes exquisite dairy and cheese products. Cretan milk and yogurt are quite different in terms of taste and quality from their industrial equivalents. Local yogurt includes all kinds of beneficial bacteria which help strengthen the digestive system.
The area of Pano (Upper) Mirabello has always been known for its top-quality yogurt. The goat or sheep milk is considered more beneficial than the widely consumed cow milk and it is very close to breast milk. The area’s cheese products such as myzithra, kefalotiri, xinogalo (buttermilk), anthotiros and white brined cheese are among the favorites for all those who value top quality.
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