Fresh air and olive oil

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We’ve just got back from 10 days on Crete, exploring Hania and the south coast, walking gorges and eating wonderful fresh local food. The ‘organic’ revolution hasn’t really clicked in Crete because that’s just the normal way they live, especially in the more rural western parts of the Island.

The food in Crete is amazing. They grow loads of semi tropical things like huge tomatoes and aubergines. The butternut squashes that we saw when we walked through the mountain villages were as big as water melons. Every taverna serves amazing salads as well as stews made from local meat.

The livestock is mainly goats and sheep, but again, most people keep a few chickens in their back yards and judging by the breed (naked necks), they were for the pot. The landscape is so suitable for goats and sheep that it’s easy to see why they produce so much amazing yogurt and cheese.

The trip reminded me of a conversation that I was having with a friend just before we came away. She was remarking that less than 100 years ago the way that we live (smallholding), would have been the norm. I replied that it was more like 50 years ago but I appreciated the point. However, wherever we go in the world, when we take the time to step outside of our own backyard, we find that other cultures still hold this connection to food and nature as something to be cherished. A way of life that they wouldn’t dream of changing.

We took a Cretan cookery course in Vamos. We learnt how to make cheese pies with an olive oil pastry, stuffed vine leaves, courgette fritters and a tomato based lamb stew. I have bought 2 litres of amazing local olive back home and can’t wait to try these recipes on our next dinner guest.

Oh and the honey Raki is not bad either, although it is possible to get carried away with the Cretan hospitality and drink too much of it….or so I’m told.

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