Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Cretan Cheese


Cheese consumption on Crete is the largest on a world scale! Cretans do not actually see food as some sort of medicine; they know how to enjoy different tastes. The taste of Cretan cheese, gruyere and its varieties (kefalotyri, kefalograviera), sweet and sour soft cheese and other dairy products is unsurpassed! A significant source of calcium and proteins with high biological value, the Cretan cheese plays a significant role in Cretan diet. It is said that cheese is a source of saturated fat, but Cretans who eat a lot of cheese are not found with high levels of cholesterol. This is probably due to a balanced diet, which prevents the building up of harmful substances in the human organism. Indeed, the Cretan dietary prototype provides an impressive balance of nutritive elements that are precisely those required by the human body to remain healthy.
Recent scientific research correlated the effects of protein break-down in the dairy products with the prevention, treatment, and evolution of tumour growths in the breast and prostate! Currently, there is extensive research going on in Crete and France to develop new methods for the treatment of such tumours on the basis of related scientific results!

Milk is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, pholic acid, basic minerals and amino-acids. The activities of goat- and sheep-raising on Crete are deeply rooted in myth. It is said that the dairy products of Crete provided nourishment to the great god, Zeus, who was born in a cave on the island and nursed by a goat, Amaltheia. Since then, the character of goat- and sheep-raising on Crete has seen but little changes. Stock-raising is only in terms of small animals, goats and sheep, that roam free in the scented pastures of the island. There are no organised stock-raising units and all animals feed on the wild plants and herbs.
This traditional form of stock-raising exploits traditional knowledge accumulated throughout the centuries. The only difference is that milk processing does not take place inside or outside sheep-folds any more, but in modern processing units which balance traditional forms of processing with approved standards of hygiene. The Cretan gruyere is exceptional in taste, as it is the case with other types of local cheese.

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