Crete: The Roots of the Mediterranean Diet - Enjoying the benefits of one of the world's healthiest cuisines wherever you live.
by Nikki Rose with contributions by Panayiotis Moldovanidis and Patricia " Scout" Hazouri.
Blurb, August 2012, 120 pgs.
There are hundreds of guidebooks for the island of Crete, as it is a developed tourism destination brimming with famous ancient sights, as the cradle of the Minoan Civilisation, one of the oldest anywhere, at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with a mild climate and a melting pot, with Minoans, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Venetians and Turkish having left their mark over the past 4,000 years. At the same time, there are many cook books on offer as Cretan Cuisine (Cretan Diet) has caught the eye of scientists since the 1950s and today is acknowledged as one of the healthiest. However this book is the suitable choice for savvy eco-travellers and aspiring chefs alike since the author is both an award-winning organiser of culinary agro-tours in Crete and a professional Chef.
It is not always easy to objectively review environmental or other contentious issues in a tourism destination and still convince the reader that it is worth visiting it (or at least buy the book), however this cookbook-guidebook, a joint product of enthusiasm and first-hand knowledge succeeds both in making you want to visit (or revisit) the finest bits of Crete, safely hidden away - so far - from the mostly boozing clients of the mass-tourism-developed northern coast and to hone your organic cooking skills with unusual but healthy Cretan dishes and mezes. But even if you have zero skills, you will be pleasantly surprised with the many traditional rinse-and-eat options . Along the way, readers, especially young ones will be convinced, through a series of delightful personal accounts, about the merits of a healthy diet and hopefully abandon processed food, fast-food and their life-style equivalents and consequences.
A useful and balanced content structure, a fresh, opinionated and humorous writing style, appealing and informative pictures, invaluable general cooking tips, many detailed recipes (with Index) and equally digestible doses of Cretan history and traditions await the reader, interspersed with more sobering but accurate references to some ongoing threats to the traditional way of life and the local environment of Crete, which is facing, along with, but much less than, the rest of Greece, an acute economic and social crisis. In fact there is a growing current of young people who leave large cities like Athens and Thessaloniki and move back to the villages of their ancestors in the countryside to engage in organic agriculture, and in a way this book is part of this trend. If your visit to Crete (and other places) is well-researched and planned, and this takes place also by reading quality books such as this, it can support a lot of real village-based people doing great work against the odds and in return you get back an authentic experience.
In terms of expanding its use as a travel book this volume could be perhaps further improved in future editions, either by the addition of an ecotravel chapter, or by linking key recipes to specific locations and including related travel info about agrotourism and ecotourism options in these locations (such as contacts and websites). The author is a Greek-American professional chef, writer, and cultural-culinary seminar director who founded the award-winning Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries Eco-Agritourism Network (CCS) in 1997. The proceeds from the book support CCS programs.