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Cretan oil

Olive oil, the liquid “gold” of the Cretan land

Homer used to call it "liquid gold" and Hippocrates named it the "Great Healer": the sacred olive tree and its fruits have been praised like no other as symbols of peace, wisdom and victory and have been associated with all aspects of the daily life in our country inspiring poets, writers and artists worldwide.

"How much oil, my God!" yelled surprised the famous American nutritionist Dr. Α. Keys, when in 1957, touring around Cretan countryside conducing the well-known “Research of Seven Countries”, faced the dishes of the locals, literally dipped in olive oil! Olive oil is the one and only lubricant used on the island since Minoan times up to day. The olive tree, as evidenced by archaeological findings, existed in Crete since 2000 BC and the production of those years is calculated to exceed 11,000 tons not counting the huge quantities of edible fruits.
The precious "gifts" of olive trees, the tasty fruits and their oil is perhaps the most characteristic element of the "cuisine of the poor" in the island. Lenten dish, olive, accompanies the penny-wise casserole during Lent, attends the farmer breaks during harvest and is perfectly matched with tomato, the cheese, nut, raki (local spirit) and good company. Delight for the taste and inspiration for traditional couplets glorifying its nutritional value "whoever eats oil and bread and olive pies, is not caught by death strikes!"

Olive oil is the main reason why a piece of bread will be “landed” inside Greek salad and will be consumed without any quilt, snubbing any other "gourmet" habit on the table. Based on olive oil, local housewives make both simple recipes for everyday meals and complex creations for festive days such as delicious pies and olive breads. Today, olive paste and sauces enriched with olive trees, have also found a place at the table of restaurants, hotels and homes especially in cities.

The daily parabolic phrases used in Greek containing the word “olive oil” is so common that indicates in the best way, how deep the relationship is of this blessed tree with the Greeks and the Greek language. Typical expressions include "do not throw oil on the fire" meaning do not make things worse, "the sea is oil," meaning the sea is so calm "his/her oil is over" meaning death is approaching for someone, and many many more!

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the olive trees dominating in the Cretan countryside create a wonderful life scenery for locals and visitors. None of us can really imagine the Cretan landscape without this generous element of nature. Particularly, Viannos is a gifted place where the olive trees are present through ages and may enchant you in such a way that you will include it among your most favorite destinations! According to the famous Cretan author Nikos Kazantakis "touring around the world, seeing - seeing and not get enough of it - new lands and seas and people and ideas, see everything as if for your first time, see everything as if for your last time .. ".

The olive oil as the timeless food choice of the Cretan Diet

From the Minoan era to the present, the products of the Cretan table are pretty much the same: olive oil, cereals fruits, vegetables, honey, greens and herbs. Despite the cultural influences of various nations with whom Crete came into contact in its turbulent history and left their marks in the local gastronomy, nothing has managed to replace over time the use of olive oil in everyday Cretan table.

Whomever may travel to Crete by taste, will be overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma of olive oil and by its intense and fruity flavor; will be impressed by the disarming simplicity of the Cretan dishes and by the transparent salads - either smelling sea salt or reminding the wildness of the mountains- and will taste grilled or boiled vegetables in the most modest combinations, but still with plenty of olive oil!

The economic development of the island was closely linked to the production activities of its inhabitants; those were mainly the result of the soil and climatic conditions, which in turn affected the local cuisine and the eating habits of the island via the raw materials given by the Cretan land. The geographical terrain of Crete is mainly formed by small mountains smoothly reformed to plain or coastal areas, while the eye of the visitor is trapped by the numerous olive trees shining under the sun. The olive trees which nourishes for so many centuries the island's population, grows almost everywhere, even in dried and poor territories. The richness in olive oil all over Crete is the main cause of the Cretans’ love for dishes that generously contain cooked oil called “ladera”.

Concerning the consumption of olive oil in the modern daily diet, one should draw a deep dividing line between olive oils and almost all other cooking fats. That is why, olive oil is not just another fat in our frying pan; extra virgin olive oil is a beneficial to our health food and also a tasty treat in our kitchen .

The fathers of medicine science, Asclepius and Hippocrates together with the most famous doctors of that time, Galen, Dioscorides, and Diocles strongly believed in the beneficial effect of olive oil on health and often recommended it in daily basis as a treatment. Currently, 3000 years later, modern medicine continues to recommend the widespread use of olive oil in the diet of adults and children, healthy and sick, thanks to its valuable ingredients that provide health, wellness and longevity.

The beneficial effect of extra virgin olive oil on the human body is a mutually acceptable belief. The daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil is associated with reduced incidence of cardiovascular diseases, but also provides preventive action against cancer, osteoporosis and other serious illnesses. Each year hundreds scientific publications related to the effect of olive oil on health are published, while in recent years attention has turned to the so called non-fatty constituents of the oil, such as polyphenols and squalene which seem to play a very important role in the human body. The extra virgin olive oil with the number of so-called bioactive components can reasonably be described as one of the most important natural functional food, a food key to our daily diet and health.

On the other hand, it is apparent by the first taste of an extra virgin olive oil that it is so rich in flavor. It is well known that olive oil has challenged the tongue, palate and nose of thousand specialists worldwide and this is not by accident. Hundreds of competitions worldwide confirm that the taste and aroma of extra virgin olive oil is its most important criterion for quality. The extra virgin olive oil seals and completes its flavor and aroma from the simplest to the most demanding dish and is preferred by the most famous professional chefs worldwide.