If there is a globally common habit all travellers, no matter the reason of their journey, share, that is their willingness to experience and taste the local cuisine and its respective unique dishes. In this context, Crete comprises an ideal destination for someone to indulge into the special local delights which differ from all the other recipes throughout Greece. However, since each Cretan region is well-known for its own dishes, let's see the top three of them at the west part of Crete, that of Chania:
The first of the most delicious and traditional dishes of Chania is the famous marathopita, which is Greek for fennelpie. Even if Marathopita is a classic recipe for the people of Chania, it is popular all over Crete and it is considered a top Cretan culinary choice.
Marathopita is a round, flat pie, filled with marathos (ie fennel) and covered by a soft pastry. This exquisite filling of marathos reveals all the aroma of this flavourful herb in every single bite you will enjoy. Most of the local cooks and housewives also add spinach, fresh onion and sorrel in the stuffing.
Bear in mind that because the marathos plant loses its freshness really fast, the preparation of marathopita should begin right after the collection of the herbs. Thus, in case you taste a relatively stiffen version of the pie, it is probably a result of the above process.
This zucchini and potato pie is a trademark for the region of Chania, as it is also being revealed by its own name. “Chaniotiko” means something coming from Chania. Its main ingredients are chopped zucchini and potatoes, alongside with Myzithra cheese, a white cheese, primarily produced in Crete. Myzithra is made with milk and whey from ship and/or goats. Half of the local cooks prefer to prepare it covered with pastry, when the other half suggest that the best version is the uncovered one.
Although there is an unofficial competition between these two sides about the right… appearance of the Chaniotiko Boureki, they all seem to agree in one thing: the quality of Myzithra is fundamental for the final quality of the plate.
This, mainly, summer patty comprises a light meal, easily prepared and just delicious. In fact, for those who love salty choices for their breakfast, Chaniotiko Boureki is going to thrill them..
Staka is a type of roux (flour and fat cooked together) that is being collected from goat and/or sheep milk. It is mainly used in the preparation of Gamopilafo, the traditional wedding pilaf of Crete, a number of meatpies, and even as a flavour enhancer. Staka is that creamy crust that appears on the surface of fresh sheep milk, if it is left outside the fridge for hours. In the previous years where the use of technology was unusual, the Cretan people use to gather this “cream” every single day and keep it in the refrigerator. This is why in other parts of Crete just call it cream.
You can find it cooked in most of Cretan restaurants and you can also buy it “raw” from local shops at Chania. Its texture is something between cheese and yoghurt and it belongs to the dairy family. It's an experience that you should gain when visiting Chania.
Extra hint: Sfakiani Pita
This pie from the historical and remote region of Sfakia, the only place that allegedly remained unconquered in Greece during the World War II, is a delicious thin pie filled with Myzithra or Anthotyros cheese and it is served with honey and nuts. Sfakiani Pita comprises an exquisite Greek meze accompanying wonderfully the Cretan spirit Tsikoudia, as well as it can replace the after-food desserts.