Interesting information about Crete
Bullet holes in road signs. It is no secret that Cretans own guns, especially in mountainous areas. Road signs are easy targets and you will see many of them that resemble swiss cheese after some shooting practice. Cretans usually fire their guns at weddings and other celebrations.
Churches = ekklisies. The big churches are inside the towns but the numerous small ones are practically everywhere. Usually white-painted, you will find them on a beach, on the mountain peaks, in deep gorges or inside caves. People of Crete are deeply religious people and they build churches to express their gratitude to God or to fulfil a "tama", a promise given to God in exchange for a request.
The miniature churches next to the roads however, are memorials for people killed in a car accident, at the same spot where the accident happened. The family of the deceased construct and maintain them . They contain a photo of the deceased, some religious objects and a lit candle.
Erotas or Eros, son of Aphrodite, was a god in ancient Greece. It is difficult to give the meaning of the Greek word "erotas" because there is no word for it in English.The closest translation is "being in love". The english word Love is "Agapi" in Greek.
Erontas or diktamos is the Greek name of the herb dittany. It used to be a rare, hard to collect herb because it grew at steep cliffs in mountainous areas. Today it is cultivated, so it has become easy to find. It is said that its name "erontas", which is actually the same word as erotas, was given to it because a man should be deeply in love with a woman in order to risk his life and collect it for her from a cliff.
Fresh Fish: Fresh fish in Crete has become rare and quite expensive. Common fish you will find at restaurants are: red mullet, sea bream, red snapper, swordfish and tuna. Octopus, squids, shrimps and mussels are also easy to find and they taste great. Fish like Sand-Smelt or Silverside is quite cheap and tasty, although its taste is described as "fishy" by people who are not used to Mediterranean fish.
Garides are shrimps. Have them boiled or "saganaki" with tomatos and feta cheese.
Gazoza, the Sprite of Crete. It is still produced by small companies all over the island and you will find it at cafes in the villages.
Greek Salad. In Greek it is called "horiatiki" and it is a tasty salad made from fresh tomatoes, cucumber, olives and feta cheese. Add some origano, vinegar and plenty of Greek olive oil and you have a tasty and fulfilling dish.
Herbs. If I had to describe Crete in 5 words only, then I would choose: sun, sea, mountains, sage and thyme. Sage and thyme are everywhere in Crete and the air is full of their characteristic smell. A lot of different herbs grow in Crete and you can buy them everywhere. Herbs have been used for ages by people of Crete as medicines. Try a tea of camomile and sage if you have a sore throat. If you don't dislike the sweet taste you may add some honey to it. If your nose is blocked and you cannot breath easily, then have a tea of thyme.
- Honey. Honey of excellent quality is produced in Crete and the reason is the many herbs of the nature of Crete. Thyme honey is considered to be the best. You can buy honey at many stores and supermarkets all over the island but for the best honey you will need to have a very good friend in Crete, who will buy it for you directly from a local producer.
Immigrants: Albanians, Bulgarians, Russians, Ukranian and others from Eastern Europe have moved to Greece in big numbers. Most of them work in agriculture and construction and their number is more than 10% of the Greek population. They adjusted quickly to the Greek way of life and their children go to Greek schools.
Kafeneio, the Greek cafe, a very important part of the traditonal social life in Crete and Greece. Kafeneia (cafes) were strictly for men and the traditional ones become rare in cities. The modern version of a kafeneio is distinguished by the waitress from Eastern Europe. LINK: Greek Customs and Habbits
Kalamari, deep fried squid. A popular dish in Crete and Greece.
Kalimera, the greek way of saying Good Morning.
Lamb meat. The best meat you can have in Crete is the young lamb or young goat meat from animals raised in the mountainous areas. If you happen to be in a tavern in a small mountainous village, ask them for grilled paidakia. Delicious! Pronunciation of paidakia= pythakia: py as in python, th as in this.
Mizithra, a fresh soft white cheese. It contains lower fat and cholesterol than yellow cheese. It is made by sheep milk.
Paximadi, the traditional Cretan way of preserving bread for a long time. It is hard dried bread that gets soft when you add some water to it. You will find it in various forms, sizes and made from wheat or barley, with or without yeast, whole grain or not. Pour some olive oil on a big round piece of paximadi, add some grated tomato, origanon and feta cheese and you will have the very tasty appetizer known as "ntakos" in Heraklion district or "koukouvaya" in Rethymnon and Chania.
Pita Giros, slices of grilled pork meat with yoghurt, lots of onion, french fries, salt and pepper, all wrapped inside a round "pita" bread. Pita - giros is the fast food of Greece and you can find it almost everywhere. It costs 2,5 Euro (Heraklion 2004) and one of them will keep you full for several hours. Chicken giros is becoming popular lately because of the less fat it contains.
Platanos or Plane Tree, a tree that grows close to water. You can find it usually close to a river in gorges or in the central square of villages of Crete. It looks similar to the maple tree and it can grow very big. Huge trees can be seen at Krasi village, at Asi-Gonia village or at Vlatos village, where a sign "Monument of Nature" points to it.
Raki. This is the famous local drink of Crete. It is produced in late October or early November and it is distilled from grape skins. It is transparent, very strong and in the summer it is served cold. Raki or tsikoudia is for Crete what ouzo is for the rest of Greece.
Sariki is the traditional head cover of men of Crete. It is black and wrapped many times around the top of the head.
Souvlaki. Skewered pork meat, a traditional Greek dish. It is served with french fries and there is also chicken, lamb and swordfish souvlaki.
Unfinished Houses, a common sight in Crete. People in Crete build the frame of their house before their building license expires. Usually people will build a 3-4 floors building. Each floor is meant for one appartment. They need one appartment for their family but they plan ahead for when their children grow up and have families of their own. They will finish the house later when they will need it or they have enough money to do so.
Vegetables. Crete produces many different vegetables and they taste a lot better than what you will find in the supermarkets in Europe.
Xanthies touristries, blonde tourist women. Highly appreciated by the "kamakia", the young hot-blooded Greek lovers. Love stories between men of Crete and tourists are common each year. Most of them are just summer loves but a few marriages come out of them also. The result is the many european women living in Crete, mostly German, Dutch and Scandinavian. Be aware though, that having a romantic love affair during your holiday is one thing and living in Crete married to a Cretan man is totally different. The cultural differences are many and it is very important not to ignore them.
Yakinthos, Saint Yakinthos is the Saint Valentine of Crete. There is a big celebration for the Cretan Saint of Love in Anogia in July every year.
Yannis and Yorgos, are the two most common names for men in Greece. Yannis is John and Yorgos is George. More common names are Manolis and Nikos. For women the most common name is Maria. LINK Namedays in Greece.
Zucchini or Courgette. Try zucchini slices deep fried in olive oil. Fried aubergine slices are very tasty too.