Products of Crete:
Crete has preserved its authentic character and rich culture. It is due to the island’s isolation from the rest of Greece, its longer history, the many indigenous herbs and plants as well as the strong Venetian influences that it has maintained many of its original characteristics in language, food, art and music.
Among other Greeks, the island is known and respected for its fine musical tradition, which is inspired by the Cretans’ emotions and passion for life. The most famous instruments that the great masters of Cretan music use are the lyra and lute. The lyra is played with a bow like a violin while the lute is played like a guitar.
Cretans are also known for their pottery art and pottery is the economic mainstay of several villages across the island. Another strong and well maintained craft tradition is that of embroidery that you see in many of the Cretans’ clothes, especially in the inland mountain villages and at festivals when traditional costumes are worn. Also, traditional pieces of weaving are used to embellish households with many other beautiful items which are hand-made by women working at home.
Crete is blessed with a wonderful natural environment, a mild climate and a fertile land. The gastronomical heritage of the island originates from antiquity and the Minoan times. The Cretan diet is based on olive oil, fresh local products, mountain herbs, fish, cheese and a great variety of fruits and vegetables. It is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, but with its own specific characteristics that make it stand out in its use of Crete’s indigenous herbs and wild greens, varyingly consumed thoughout the year dependent on which of the island’s indigenous mountain plants or herbs are in season. As a diet, it is renowned for its outstanding ability to ensure that Cretans enjoy some of the highest levels of good health with very low rates of heart disease. Cretans’ longevity is greater than that of most other people on our planet. The islanders enjoy their food and family gatherings involve plentiful consumption of fine, fresh and carefully prepared meals which are always accompanied by the unique Cretan wine or tsikoudhia (the Cretan’s own distilled drink, similar to raki).
The island is also known for its honey production and the longest wine tradition in Europe. It is worth mentioning that the oldest receptacle containing wine was found on the island and dates back to 4,500 years ago. Cretan products are particularly famous for their excellent quality.
Cretan olive oil is acknowledged to be the best in the world. This is in large part due to the island’s climate with its cooling breezes during the warmest summer months and the mildness of its winters as well as the excellent soil quality and the abundant capacity of its olive oil mills. In most moderately large Cretan villages, there is a local olive pressing mill. This ensures that the olives are pressed to become oil so soon after being picked, often only a few hours later and thus the fresh taste is retained in the oil to the fullest degree.