Monday, 22 October 2012

Κερνάμε Ελλάδα (Taste Greece)

Please excuse my terrible photography - that will teach me to remember not to recharge camera batteries at the last minute!

Another agricultural fair took place in Hania over the weekend, at a more national level, rather than the local Agricultural August organised by the municipal region of Hania. The "Kername Ellada" trade fair showcased mainly local products and cultivations, as well as a number of food companies from other parts of Greece.

 A carved graviera cheese wheel, featuring the a picture of the island.

Aloe vera
Carob products
Apart from the regular tasting sessions for cheese, honey, preserves, baked products and drinks, and the local products that were also available for sale, the exhibition also contained a few surprises, this time in the form of novel products made from plants that were often considered only as animal feed (carob) or for ornamental use (aloe vera) in the past.

Buddha's fingers (or hand)
Superfood berries
Superfoods like ippofaes and the goji berry are now being promoted as possible new cultivations for the island. One stall in particular (the Botanical Park of Crete) displayed the most impressive array of tropical and other exotic fruits, ranging from jujube berries to Buddha's finger citrus fruit.

Farmed snails
Snail farming was also showcased at the fair. This is an unusual prospect for locals, who are not yet quite convinced that snails three times the size of garden snails can be prepared in the same way as for Cretan snail stew. Farmed snails also have a whiter coloured meat than do foraged snails, but the former is not being sold in the fresh market. Most farmed snails are destined for the French market, as well as other European countries; they are mainly sold preserved in jars of olive oil, kind of like truffles.

One of the non-food stalls had some very eye-catching ceramics, made in free styles with artwork inspired by Cretan flora and fauna. I bought accessories (pendant and bracelets) for my family, in the ancient Greek style reminiscent of μελανόμορφα and ερυθρόμορφα ceramics. The business producing them operates from Iraklio at Kokkino Hani, and they are also producing raku-inspired (Japanese) ceramics in dazzling Greek γαλανόλευκα colours. 

Red-figure and black-figure ceramics originate in ancient Greece - olive is a common pottery theme in Greek art, while the pomegranate and sardine designs below remind me of the Mediterranean.

The possibilites for Cretan agriculture are really endless. What remains is the manner in which this potential is exploited for profit. The bounty of products at the fair sent a positive signal of abundance and wealth: we may be poor, but we are not hungry.

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