The Cretan maggiri is a fresh pasta that resembles a very wide noddle. The pasta dough is rolled out and cut into small squares. Half the pasta is boiled in lamb broth and half pan-fried. Pasta pieces are mixed together and served with anthotyros cheese. This is an exquisite combination of a crunchy and juicy pasta.
I tasted maggiri at the Kritamon Restaurant of Dimitris Mavrakis in the village of Archanes in Crete.
Cretan mezedes, the accompaniment to raki
Mezedes (pl. for mezes) are savoury appetizers offered in small helpings in the traditional cafés (kafeneia) of Greece as an accompaniment to an alcoholic drink. Mezedes, an integral part of Greek cuisine, hold a prominent place in Greek culture, incorporating a deeply rooted tradition, that of sharing food and drink with friends in a no-frills environment.
The word meze comes from the East; it is a Turkish word. In Greece, mezedes are served to accompany ouzo (an aniseed-flavored distilled spirit, the famous drink that turns white when water or ice is added to it), tsipouro (a strong distilled spirit with an alcohol content of 45% made from the residue of crushed grapes) and sometimes, wine, retsina (wine with a delicate aroma of pine on the nose and a pale to golden-yellow colour) and beer. The best place to savour a meze is at the kafeneia. There, mezedes are always served in small plates, since they are not meant to satisfy one’s hunger but rather to prevent the side-effects of drinking on an empty stomach.
In Crete, mezedes accompany raki.
Sfakiani pita (pie)
What about pies? Should you expect to savour delicious pies in Crete? The answer is positive. Certainly! Just like in the rest of Greece, pies occupy a significant part in Cretan cuisine.
Here pies are made with dough, dairy produce – mostly soft white cheeses (myzithra – a whey cheese made from either sheep’s or cow’s whey to which whole milk is sometimes added, xynomizithra – a soft, sour cheese, anthotyro – a soft, young cheese made with the residual whey left over after the production of graviera and the addition of whole milk, pichtogalo Chanion – a soft spreadable cheese made from sheep’s milk or from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Pichtogalo has a sour taste and a smooth texture and has been granted PDO status), wild herbs (fennel, etc.) and other aromatic herbs growing on the Cretan earth, such as mastic, cumin, bay leaves, cinnamon.
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