Compare those three different Name Day- celebration menus of Cretan upper- middle class:

1) A dinner of 1970 served in the dining room, with coffee, brandy, liqueurs and smoke in the living room. 

Fried myzithrokalitsouna ( Cretan small pies stuffed with myzithra, a local ricotta -style cheese, and mint)

boiled chicken with  pilaf rice

rabbit stifado

beef pot roast with fried potatoes 

baked lamb


tomato, cucumber salad

lettuce salad with roquefort/ olive oil dressing

seasonal fruits

mixed fresh fruits in banana jelly

home made praline ice cream


2) A buffet -style party of 1988. The food was served in the dining room with the guests switching room to room, eating, drinking and dancing.

Bâton sale

baked myzithrokalitsouna

avocado, yogurt, garlic, tabasco dip served with fresh carrot strips

eggs ala Russe

potato salad

Russian salad

canned tuna, potato, chopped lettuce, mayonnaise salad  

salmon quiche

pasta, bacon, cheese, double cream soufflé

Indian chicken curry

baked lamb with garlic and rosemary

choux à la crème

pavé au chocolat


3) A summer buffet of 2010. The food was served in the kitchen/dining area but the 60 guests enjoyed their dinner on  the veranda of the house.

choriatiki salad

lettuce, walnut salad

red & white cabbage salad

russian salad

tuna, potato, mayonnaise salad 

okra with tomato sauce

kalitsounia stuffed with amaranth and cheese

mushroom pie

ham and cheese pie

zucchini pie

minced meat crepes


pasta, cheese, double cream souffle

pilaf rice cooked in chicken broth

boiled lamb

barbecued pork chops, beef kebabs, meat balls, sausages

vegetable- stuffed minced meat roll

spiced meat roll

rabbit stifado

lamb cooked with artichokes and dill

tsigariasto kid

baked lamb with potatoes 

fruit salad


chocolate cream cake 




Buffet of 2010


 All menus recognize the  importance and personal meaning of the occasion: they  honor the name day of host or hostess and show  concern for the welfare of the guests. Plenty and tasty food  is  the top concern. Despite  the great variety of frozen and canned foods, dishes served on name-day’s feast demonstrate  care on the part of the hosts.  Some dishes on 1988 and 2010 menus can  be made in advance, but all of them are hand prepared and require effort.

The three menus also imply consumption of energy, time and money.  The Cretan feast-menus could be viewed as a reflection of the house owners’ social status, if in Cretan homes the preparation of festive food was not of utmost importance as expression of hospitality and friendship.  Though time and energy consuming, the preparation of cooked and baked dishes usually falls on  female members of family while barbecuing and grilling are  considered a man’s job.  

The dinner of 1970 is a combination of international trends and Cretan specialties. The  food of the buffet- style party (1988) is a mixture of  French, Indian, Russian and Italian cuisines. Avocado dip was a new trend, even if the tree was cultivated in Crete since 1960. Here, the growing interest in ethnic foods  was associated with a major requirement: surprise your guests! 

The number of the meat dishes on the menu of 1970 (4) is not comparable to the number of meat dishes on the menu of 2010 (13),  both menus are meat based though. The large number of meat dishes on the menu of 2010 reflects, too, the eating habits of modern Cretans.

Times are changing and the content of the menus  may change but the message remains the same:  You honor me with your presence, you are my guest, you are  important, I will take care of you, I will surprise you and make my best for you.



  1. Πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα η σύγκριση, Μαριάνα! Κυριαρχία του κρέατος…το πιο εύκολο φαγώσιμο!!!
    Τελικά, για λόγους υγείας, μέτρου, φιλικότητας προς το περιβάλλον, και φυσικά με αφορμή τη γενικότερη οικονομική ατμόσφαιρα, μήπως αξίζει η επιστροφή στα ήθη του ’70;

  2. Η οικονομική κατάσταση προφανώς θα περιορίσει τα γαργαουντικού τύπου τραπεζώματα… είμα περίεργη όμως αν θα περιορίσει την κρεωφαγία. Στα Χανιά το κρέας είναι αρκετά φθηνότερο- τουλάχιστον ορισμένα είδη του- από το ψάρι ή ορισμένα χορταρικά.

  3. Η “μεγάλη στροφή” αν γίνει ποτέ, θα επιτευχθεί μόνο μέσω της παιδείας.Τα παιδιά πρέπει να μυηθούν σε νοστιμιές “άλλου τύπου” από μικρά και να μάθουν ότι η ασχολία με την προετοιμασία της τροφής είναι μια απαραίτητη δραστηριότητα για την υγεία μας.

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