Crete Diet

The Crete Diet is a lyrical poem, punctuated by fresh produce; vegetables, fruits, oils, nuts and cheeses cultivated for centuries on Kriti.

The cuisine includes fresh olive oil, and plenty of it.

The natural diet of the island of has been recognised as one of the healthiest in the world. It includes wild greens, fresh home-grown tomatoes, broad beans, lemons and fresh olive oil. Crete diet also contains the more unusual mezithra, staka and anthogalo.

This diet is not a weight loss diet or a special diet, it is the regular daily diet of the people of Crete. Every village has its own specialities such as mournidia, mulbury liquor or just tzikoudia grape liquor.

Crete Diet
'The World's Healthiest Diet'

Tomatoes at the market (image by Karl Blackwell)
Crete Diet - broad beans

Village Rhythms

In the village, the natural rhythms of the harvests influence what is fresh and natural to eat.

In October, the stafília grapes have been harvested and the sultanas dried, so each house has abundant quantities of sultanínas sultanas, bursting with the summer sun trapped inside.

In the village in November, each breakfast was karídia walnuts as they were plentiful. Sometimes simply karídia and méli walnuts and honey.

Later in January, the trees were full of mandarínia so these sweet treats were a feature at most meals and coffee breaks.


Moustalevriá  μουσταλευριάMoustalevriá

After the grape harvest and the all important trip to the einopoiío οινοποιίo wine factory, the scrappy left-over grapes are made into moustalevriá  μουσταλευριά.

This sweet, wholesome dish is traditionally made from the músta must, the squashed skins of the grapes left over from wine-making.

MoustalevriaMoustalevria made for me by Eleni

Cretan Food - Horta

Horta or wild greens in CreteHorta or wild greens in Crete

After winter rains, hórta flourishes, and yiayias are busy out in the country lanes with their bags collecting the lush wild greens. There are actually many different types of hórta...getting to know them and how to cook them is one of the pleasures of life in the village, and learning about Cretan food.

Local Foods

As you sit relaxing in the kafeníon, don’t be surprised if a ruddy faced shepherd comes in bearing mizíthra fresh goat's whey cheese from the mountains. This freshness is one of the great qualities of Cretan food.

Around Christmas time, those with squeamish stomachs should stay away from the butcher as he kills the pigs for the village. Our kafedzís, who used to be the town butcher, still performs this service in late December for all the families with pigs. As he knew I was squeamish, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, he would make the hand sign for cutting his throat and say na spháxo ta vorúnia – "I am going to kill the pigs - want to come and watch?" He never tired of making this joke and others which would always make me laugh, and him and the rest of the kafeníon laugh at my grimaces and squirms. Pork is a popular Cretan food.

Crete Diet - Books