11 Nov For the Love of Food: Greek Cuisine in Crete
I’m a foodie. I won’t lie about it. Food is right up there with traveling, dancing and sleeping under the stars. So when combined with traveling, it’s always going to get serious. The best food I’ve ever eaten while traveling was in Greece and the Cycladian Islands. Everything about Greek cuisine does it for me: the carafes of wine, the creamy texture of cucumber-based tzatziki, and kalamata olives. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
It’s funny because when I arrived in Greece I thought I didn’t like olives. I’m not sure if I’d ever really eaten them but I had the idea in my mind that they would rank in the vomit category with mayonnaise. Wow, was I wrong. I’m quick to admit when I don’t know what’s up and I clearly didn’t. By the end of the trip I was trying to beat my high score of olives eaten in one meal. Their salty, oregano dusted goodness couldn’t be avoided. It became a moderate obsession (understatement.)
But my best meal ever was in Crete. It wasn’t just the food: it was the atmosphere, the scenery, the company, the authenticity – it was everything. I like to pretend that Crete is my best kept secret – that no one else knows it exists – because in that moment, no one did. I tapped into something magical and I was the only privy to its intoxicating spells.
I was befriended by a cabbie name Johannes and his family. They invited me to dinner at their house one night after visiting ruins all day. The beach where I basked in the sound of gentle ocean waves (and paid 15$ a night to stay at) was practically empty. It was as if I had uncovered a hidden paradise that only Johannes knew about (he lived just a half mile or so down the beach with a beautiful wife and daughter, Mariella, who was my age.)
I walked down the shore, letting the water lap my feet as I approached their gated house. Johannes was in the garden and invited me to drink some homemade Raki with him while Penelope finished preparing the snails she’d collected that afternoon at Phaestos. We talked about philosophy and snacked on fresh cucumbers and herbs from his garden. Then over glasses of wine, we slid the succulent, buttery gastropods from their shells, laughing at our ineptness with normal sized forks. “Haven’t you guys ever seen snail forks?”
That was the first thing I did upon returning home: sent them some snail forks!