A CRETAN PRE-WEDDING PARTY (Κρητικό προγαμήλιο γλέντι)

Here is what was served at a ‘before wedding’ party which was held in Karanou. The party was given by the groom’s family one week before the son got married. The wedding ceremony and the after wedding party (gr. glenti) were given at Athens.
The groom’s family is wealthy and the party was really crowdy, around 1000 people.
The food was the traditional for the weddings in the region of Chania.

When we arrived the ‘snacks’ were out: groundnuts, xerotigana (fragile fried pastry sweets coated with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds);


semi-sweet bread and rusks;

graviera cheese and honey;


They symbolize the sweetness of marriage and wish the couple good luck and fertility.

To drink: raki, Coca cola,  the local soft drinks: gazoza and lemonada, beer and red wine for the main course.

First course:

small pies stuffed with greens (kalitsounia), olive oils preserved in lemon juice, slices of tomatoes and cucumbers, fried lamb liver.


Main course:

boiled goat, kid goat and lamb;

very hot pilafi (medium grain white rice cooked in animals’ broth) sprinkled with white pepper and served with homemade strained yogurt (rice also symbolizes fertility and prosperity);


 tourta (pie stuffed with lamb and myzithra, the local fresh white cheese);


 baked kid goat and potatoes;


 tomato and cucumber salad;

and the roasted lamb heads were also so good!

 Then fruits and ice cream.

Then dances. According to tradition the bride’s family danced first, followed by the family of the groom, then friends of the bride and friends of the groom. When these dances were over, men and women begun to come up to the stage to dance or joined in the chorus of a song. At weddings and celebrations Cretans often shoot in the air with their guns. This marriage was not the exception.
Accidents from stray bullets have become so common that many musicians refuse to play in certain areas. The endemic gun- ownership and shooting is traditionally regarded as part of Cretan culture and pride and remains widespread on the island though it is an expensive and dangerous habit. Today Crete has the highest ratio of guns per head in the European Union.


On 26th of July, there was the religious feast (panighiri) of Aghia Paraskevi, the patron Saint of the eyes, in the village Karano (Crete). As usual, panighiri started in the morning with a church service and  ended just before noon.


A meal with enjoyable food followed the Liturgy: free range chicken cooked with olive oil, lemon juice and flavored with oregano, boiled goat, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves and  zucchini flowers), meat balls, a sort of kebab, a wide range of kalitsounia, the small cretan pies (2 types of kalitsounia with local cheese, 3 types of  kalitsounia with  greens etc.) , tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with salt and pepper, black olives, dried broad beans soaked in water, homemade bread ….


…and for dessert, mellow and nutty graviera cheese topped with excellent honey.


Scenes from a panighiri.