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
beef pot roast with fried potatoes
tomato, cucumber salad
lettuce salad with roquefort/ olive oil dressing
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.
avocado, yogurt, garlic, tabasco dip served with fresh carrot strips
eggs ala Russe
canned tuna, potato, chopped lettuce, mayonnaise salad
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.
lettuce, walnut salad
red & white cabbage salad
tuna, potato, mayonnaise salad
okra with tomato sauce
kalitsounia stuffed with amaranth and cheese
ham and cheese pie
minced meat crepes
pasta, cheese, double cream souffle
pilaf rice cooked in chicken broth
barbecued pork chops, beef kebabs, meat balls, sausages
vegetable- stuffed minced meat roll
spiced meat roll
lamb cooked with artichokes and dill
baked lamb with potatoes
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.