What has happened to the traditional cooking knowledge? A few days ago, I found some photos from earlier this summer of the 10th Agricultural August – Land and Culrure Fair. The Fair took place at the Venetian harbour of Chania and was framed by rural and food products and few samples of popular artifacts of Municipalities of Chania, Cretan businesses and women’s Agrotouristic Cooperatives.


Now, the question is about those food products which were made by women farmers and Cooperatives. Indeed, a lot of quality food products were available at their kiosks:

loukoumades and small pies (kalitsounia) made with a variety of stuffings,




small semi-sweet cheese pies (lyhnarakia)


gorgeous thin cheese pies from Sfakia sprinkled with honey





honey, raki, rusks, semi-sweet breads



cheeses, olives, olive oil, wines, dried pasta,



 fried pastry sweets (xerotigana), spoon sweets etc., etc.

However… these were products that fulfill the interest of outsiders who have an apriori notion of cretan cuisine and represent only a small part of the rusks, homemade cheeses, pasta etc. that differentiate the food from region to region. What has happened? I wonder. Do women make food products that are already well known and make good profits? Or is the loss of traditional transmission of knowledge from mothers and grandmothers to daughters and granddaughters? Of course urbanization broke part of the link between mothers and daughters and modernization led to a loss of many chararceristics of traditional cooking, especially those regarding utensils, methods and eating behaviors. On the other hand, cuisines of Cretan agricultural regions still rely heavily on tradition, though allow room for many innovations.

Looks like those women of 35-50 have lost a part of the culinary memoir. Are their mothers the connection to a way of cooking that is gradually being lost? When they are gone the link will disappear as well? I wonder….



Here’s what farmers from West Crete and Thrace could do with all those cucumbers in their summer gardens! Cucumber salads, greek salads, tzatziki and a thirst quenching refreshment, a DROSSERIKO. It is delicious and really easy.


In your blender, add:

1 large Greek cucumber, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes

3 cups cold water

1 pinch of salt

few drops of lemon juice

ice cubes as many as needed

Blend until smooth. Add the ice cubes and serve immediately.



This is a family- recipe of skordalia. Garlic sauces have a long history going back to ancient Greece. For instance, tuna fish was served with mittotos, a sauce based on garlics, leeks and cheese. Byzantine cookery was also awash with recipes that employed garlic in sauces for meats, fishes and vegetables. The well known skordalia (skordo= garlic) is a Greek garlic based sauce that appears around the Mediterranean and is esteemeted by all, judging by the large number of recipes for it. It is made of mashed potatoes or breadcrumbs or rusk soaked in water, olive oil, salt, vinegar or/and lemon. In modern Greece it is used for a variety of foods; it is served with fried salt cod, fried frog legs, oysters, grilled fish, beet salad, green bean salad, slices fried vegetable slices or is cooked with rabbit, meat, oysters and fish. Cooks in Macedonia, Ionian islands and Crete often add walnuts or almonds to mashed potatoes or soaked bread. Greek recipes from Minor Asia add pine nuts and the old cook books base the skordalia on a combination of blanched almonds and mashed potatoes. All these combinations of garlic, bread and nuts owe a lot to Middle Ages recipes. The Medieval agliata or ailléé (ital. & french version) was made of garlics, bread soaked in fish of meat broth and nuts.

5 teeth minced garlic.

1 cup black bread, crusts removed, or 1 cup black rusk, soaked in 1 cup cold water and squeezed dry

3/4 -1 cup virgin olive oil

250 gr. chopped almonds

1/3 cup lemon juice, or more if you like

70 gr. capers

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

½ cup green olive oils, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine garlic with few drops of olive oil and pound in a mortar until mushy. Add the almonds and the cappers and pound to form a paste. Pass the bread or the rusk through a food mill or colander. Blend the bread or rusk, almonds/garlic paste and olives together with a fork in a bowl. Add virgin olive oil and lemon juice alternately in very small amounts, stirring briskly. Add salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until sauce is thick. Refrigerate until needed and serve it topped with the sunflower seeds.

You can refine the recipe by using: a) blanched almonds and b) white bread and/or mashed potatoes.

The skordalia is wonderful if served with some matured graviera cheese and a piece of fresh home made bread. If you will not add olives try it with some fresh figs.