History of Greek Food


What has happened to the traditional cooking knowledge? A few days ago, I found some photos from earlier this summer of the 10th Agricultural August – Land and Culrure Fair. The Fair took place at the Venetian harbour of Chania and was framed by rural and food products and few samples of popular artifacts of Municipalities of Chania, Cretan businesses and women’s Agrotouristic Cooperatives.


Now, the question is about those food products which were made by women farmers and Cooperatives. Indeed, a lot of quality food products were available at their kiosks:

loukoumades and small pies (kalitsounia) made with a variety of stuffings,




small semi-sweet cheese pies (lyhnarakia)


gorgeous thin cheese pies from Sfakia sprinkled with honey





honey, raki, rusks, semi-sweet breads



cheeses, olives, olive oil, wines, dried pasta,



 fried pastry sweets (xerotigana), spoon sweets etc., etc.

However… these were products that fulfill the interest of outsiders who have an apriori notion of cretan cuisine and represent only a small part of the rusks, homemade cheeses, pasta etc. that differentiate the food from region to region. What has happened? I wonder. Do women make food products that are already well known and make good profits? Or is the loss of traditional transmission of knowledge from mothers and grandmothers to daughters and granddaughters? Of course urbanization broke part of the link between mothers and daughters and modernization led to a loss of many chararceristics of traditional cooking, especially those regarding utensils, methods and eating behaviors. On the other hand, cuisines of Cretan agricultural regions still rely heavily on tradition, though allow room for many innovations.

Looks like those women of 35-50 have lost a part of the culinary memoir. Are their mothers the connection to a way of cooking that is gradually being lost? When they are gone the link will disappear as well? I wonder….

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4 thoughts on “CULINARY MEMORY (?)

  1. Tangled Noodle

    I’m fascinated by the questions you and Maria pose. Personally, I do not have any culinary links with my grandmothers – we moved from the Philippines when I was very young and never knew them well, much less learned about cooking from them. My mother is an excellent cook but she has always been fascinated by Western/European cuisine. So now, I’m teaching myself (as in following cookbooks) to prepare Filipino dishes. While I may successfully recreate the flavors, I still feel there’s something missing – am I really re-connecting to my heritage or is it really no more deeply meaningful than learning to cook another cuisine such as Italian or Thai?

  2. S.

    This website is amazing! I especially enjoyed the Greek aspect of the food. The tags in the Greek language also helped pull me in. The definitions that are provided of the different terms are very beneficial as well. I think that both Greeks and non-Greeks could benefit from this website as a whole. I like that you provide definitions of not only food-related terms, but also terms in relation to the religious aspect of the Greek culture and heritage as well.

  3. maria v

    my cretan cuisine cooking skills are directly related to how my cretan husband wants his food (ie from his mother’s traditional cooking) and what i recall my mother cooked in our home in new zealand (she cooked greek/cretan food, never NZ food).

    if you go to one of the more modern restaurants in hania these days which cooks some cretan meals together with imported dishes like meat and mushrooms a la creme, they often refer to the tradtional cretan meals as ‘yiayias cooking’ rather than ‘mamas cooking’. this indicates that there is a lost link between yiayia and mama.

    what could it be due to? the new pace of life (women dont cook as much as they used to, imported ingredients are more easily sourced), new priorities (low fat meals, tv cooking shows, etc), an emphasis on appearance (both of the plate and the body) and possibly a lack of interest (old cooking methods are seen as unnecessary)

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