7 dishes you need to taste during your vacation in Crete 

Crete, the heart of the Mediterranean, is a paradise for countless great dishes that are renowned not only for their taste but also for their healthy composition. The foundation is primarily olive oil, herbs, and fresh vegetables. Let’s explore the best of Cretan cuisine, which you definitely have to taste. 

Crete is an island belonging to Greece, so Cretan cuisine and food in Greece are closely intertwined. Interestingly, despite being an island, fresh fish is a rarity here and is very expensive. However, it is certainly not missing in the cuisine. 

1. Dakos 

Dakos is a traditional Cretan food that perfectly embodies the simplicity and richness of the local cuisine. This dish consists of hard Cretan whole-grain bread or rusks, moistened with olive oil, and topped with grated tomatoes, feta or mizithra cheese, olives, and herbs. Dakos originated from the need to utilize leftover dry bread and transform it into a tasty dish. Essentially, it is similar to bruschetta. The taste is refreshing, with a pleasant contrast between the salty cheese and sweet tomatoes, complemented by the rich flavor of Cretan olive oil. 

2. Kalitsounia 

They are small, stuffed pockets usually filled with cheese and herbs, but you can also find them in many other savory and sweet variations. They are a unique delicacy served throughout the entire island. Kalitsounia can be either baked or fried, depending on the type of dough used. 

3. Stifado 

This fragrant Cretan dish is stewed in one pot. It consists of meat (traditionally rabbit, but more commonly lamb or beef today), plenty of small onions, tomatoes, wine, and a rich blend of spices, including cinnamon and cloves. Stifado has deep roots in Greek history, dating back to the time when Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire. Stifado is an excellent example of how Cretan cuisine embraces various culinary influences and transforms them into something unique. 

4. Chochlioí Boumpouristoí 

Also known as fried snails, they are a popular Cretan food traditionally served during various celebrations and festivals. Snails are fried in olive oil and flavored with vinegar or lemon juice and various herbs. If you are a fan of seafood, be sure to try them, and you won’t regret it. 

5. Souvlaki and gyros 

Greece favorite food, which you can naturally find in Crete, especially at street stalls as fast food. Souvlaki consists of small pieces of marinated meat (most commonly pork, chicken, or lamb), skewered and grilled over an open flame. The marinade usually includes olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and various herbs, giving the meat its characteristic flavor. This dish dates back to ancient times, when similar meat preparations were part of various religious ceremonies and festivities. Souvlaki is often served in pita bread with tomatoes, onions, tzatziki (yogurt sauce with cucumber and garlic), and sometimes fries. 

Gyros is layered meat that is vertically roasted on a spit while constantly rotating. It is traditionally also served in pita bread with similar ingredients to souvlaki. Although these Greek dishes are very similar, they differ in the way the meat is prepared. 

6. Moussaka 

A favorite food in Greece that is also not missing in Crete. Layers of minced meat, simmered with onions and garlic, are combined with eggplant, tomatoes, and béchamel sauce. The meat is most commonly lamb or beef, and the seasoning varies from region to region, but cinnamon and nutmeg are the base. It is often also combined with Parmesan or goat cheese, which perfectly complements the harmony of this dish. 

7. Loukoumades 

We must not forget about dessert. Loukoumades are one of the oldest and most traditional desserts, not only in Crete but throughout Greece. These small doughnuts are deep-fried to a golden brown and then drizzled with honey or sprinkled with sugar. They have a long history dating back to antiquity, and it is said that they were served to the winners of the Olympic Games. To get them, however, you don’t have to perform any heroic deeds; just sit down and enjoy them in peace. 

A few words in conclusion 

Are you already salivating? That’s good. When visiting this sunny island, don’t forget to slow down, settle in one of the local tavernas, and peacefully enjoy food in Crete, which will transport you thousands of years back in time, allowing you to literally taste history. Each dish reflects the spirit of the island and its culture and inhabitants. 

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