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Crete

The Cretan diet is rooted deeply in antiquity. It has survived under difficult conditions during the conquest of the island by the Arabs, the Venetians and the Turks. Crete maintained its dietary traditions even during the Hellenistic period, when the Romans changed…

'paximadi' dry rusks with cheese and fresh tomato on top is Secrets of the Cretan Diet

The main centres of the Minoan civilization were Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zarko, and Gournia, where palace complexes have been found. In 1450, and again in 1400 BCE, a series of catastrophes, possibly due to volcanic explosions on Santorini, caused their decline.

After the Roman conquest of Greece, Crete became a Byzantine province and following that, for an entire century (824-961 CE), was occupied by the Arabs and became a base of operations for pirates, centred on Handaka, today’s Heraklion. Subsequently, Crete returned to Byzantium until the arrival of the Venetians, who remained on the island for roughly five centuries, leaving a deep impression on its culture. Aside from Heraklion, Chania and Rethymnon flourished in this era.

Turkish rule began in 1669 and ended in 1898, with the island officially becoming part of Greece in 1913. Another important moment in the island’s history was the Battle of Crete in 1941 when the Axis powers invaded the island during World War II with an airborne attack. The battle was also important to Cretan because of the unexpectedly bold resistance the Cretans mounted against the numerically superior German forces. The graves of 4.465 German soldiers from the Battle of Crete are found in the German war cemetery in Maleme. 

Secrets of the Cretan Diet

The Cretan diet is rooted deeply in antiquity. It has survived under difficult conditions during the conquest of the island by the Arabs, the Venetians and the Turks. Crete maintained its dietary traditions even during the Hellenistic period when the Romans changed the eating habits of the entire Mediterranean.

More than 4,000 years ago the ancient Cretans, the Minoans, consumed the products that today are the basis for the Cretan diet. All of the research done internationally supports the view that the Cretan diet is the best and most characteristic case of the Mediterranean diet. Modern nutritional science indicates that the Mediterranean diet provides for a long life and good health.

Dairy products, primarily cheeses, hold an important place in Cretan cuisine in which snails are one of the favourite dishes. Cretan bread usually includes two kinds of flour grain, wheat and barley, while paximadi is a daily pleasure. Spices and aromatic herbs are included in the food but are used with discretion. Cretans are nourished by the products of their land:  horticultural products like greens, vegetables, legumes and fruit. They accompany their food with wine from the vineyards and use vast quantities of the elixir of a healthy life, olive oil, from Crete’s golden fruit. Today, Crete enjoys one of the world’s most ancient, delicious and healthy cuisines…

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) products:

ProductDesignation of Origin or
Geographical indication
Prefecture
Olive oilViannos (PDO)Heraklion
Olive oil Peza (PDO)Heraklion
Olive oil Acharnes (PDO)Heraklion
Olive oil Thrapsano (PDO)Heraklion
Olive oil Messara (PDO)Heraklion
Olive oil North Milopotamos (PDO)Rethymno
Olive oil Chania (PGI)Chania
Olive oil Kolimvari (PDO)Chania
Olive oil Apokoronas (PDO)Chania
Olive oil Selino (PDO) Chania
Olive oil Sitia (PDO) Lasithi
Fruits, vegetables, dried nutsOranges of Maleme (PDO) Chania
Fruits, vegetables, dried nuts Soultanina raisins (PDO) Chania, Lasithi, Rethymno, Heraklion
Olives Throumba of Ambadia (PDO) Rethymno
Cheese Graviera of Crete (PDO) Chania, Lasithi, Rethymno, Heraklion
Cheese Xinomizithra of Crete (PDO) Chania, Lasithi, Rethymno, Heraklion
Cheese Pichtogalo (PDO) Chania
Cheese Xigalo (PDO) Lasithi
BakeryCretan paximadi (PDO) Chania, Lasithi, Rethymno, Heraklion
Honey Cretan Thyme & Pine honey (PDO) Chania, Lasithi, Rethymno, Heraklion
Wine Archanes (PDO) Heraklion
Wine Daphnes (PDO) Heraklion
Wine Peza (PDO) Heraklion
Wine Sitia and Malvazia of Sitia (PDO) Lasithi
Wine Chandakas, Candia & Malvazia Chandakas, Candia (PDO) Heraklion
Wine Crete (PGI)Crete
Wine Lasithi (PDO) Crete
Wine Heraklion (PDO) Heraklion
Wine Rethymno (PDO) Rethymno
Wine Chania (PDO) Chania
Wine Kissamos (PDO) Chania

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