Sunday, 22 February 2009

Friends (Φίλοι)

Living in the Mediterranean on an island endowed with a great abundance of natural locally grown products is a blessing that many people envy. This does not mean we have access to everything. True, it is much easier in Crete to rely on one's own garden or locally grown produce than elsewhere, but we still rely on many products brought over from the mainland, eg rice, grain (ie bread), apples and potatoes, among others.

There are some products that never see the light of day in Hania. Raspberries and blueberries are two products that I would be happy to pay a dear price for every now and then, even though I know that this is not a sustainable way of feeding myself or my family. I have NEVER seen fresh raspberries or blueberries being sold in Hania; MAICh once grew them for experimental purposes, which said project is now, alas, over, but the Botanical Park Restaurant is making headway here by growing them successfully as part of their commitment to the sustainable growth of non-endemic plants in Crete. I love these berries, and I must admit to over-indulging in them during my last two trips to London, even though the fruits I bought there were actually produced in Holland!!! Just imagine never being able to make blueberry muffins (these fruits aren't available in frozen or tinned form either) or cranberry sauce, something I have often read about in American recipes, but can only imagine its taste.

The isolated image of Crete that I have protrayed is totally reversed in the mainland. In Athens, such exotic items are sold in even mainstream supermarkets. With the spread of gloablisation, the recent influx of Northern Europeans buying retirement properties in Crete and the rise in travel-for-pleasure to foreign countries among the Cretan people, I suspect that very soon, we will be able to get them here too, once the gourmet supermarket AB Vasilopoulos opens its doors for business close to my workplace. Already, cheddar cheese, coppa, prosciutto and chorizo sausage are now being sold in most deli counters of most supermarkets in Hania, all of which were once considered 'exotic'.

Wild rose berries are something I had never heard of myself...


... until I received an Alaskan tea sampler containing these organically grown fruits, along with some tinned Alaskan salmon. This little gift has added an exotic element to my very basic and highly localised pantry.

Thank you very much, Laurie!

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