The islands of the Aegean

Wednesday, 30 October 2013.

The islands of the Aegean

The Aegean Sea: just white churches, dry walls, sky and sea. Odysseus Elytis, the great Greek poet, wrote: “My God, what blue you spent so that we can’t see you…”.

Dry summers, made of stone, sun and salt. Winters with winds and stormy seas. Cyclades. A group of Greek islands on the boundaries of myth and poetry. Sikinos, Seriphos, Ios, Santorini, Myconos, Folegandros, Amorgos… But they’re real. The inhabitants cook and eat like the rest of the world. “Subtract everything and keep only the substance”: this is a summary of Cycladic cuisine. Simple in the extreme, you should be able to taste the ingredients and name them even if you are not a gourmet: there’s the tomato, there’s the onion, there’s the basil. Whatever they lack in volume, they make up for in taste. They say that there are no sweeter vegetables than those grown near the sea. 

An then there are the olive tree orchards that extend to the sea. Clear running waters, gardens full of vegetables, lemon trees, Seville orange trees, orange trees, anise and mastic. A feast of colours and aromas. Chios and Mytilene: Your plate is full to the brim with the plethora of goods from the nearby East and the variety of local ingredients. Cinnamon and cloves, cold ouzo, ladotyri, sardines, a sea of olive oil, everything shouts: “You are in the land of plenty. Everything is abundant here: food, drink, emotions!” You don’t want to leave, you don’t want to go elsewhere.

But then, further south, the Dodecannese (Twelve islands) await you: Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos and Astypalaia are only the beginning. Symi and Telos are next. Patmos is the great discovery. Where does one sail next? On which cobbled road should one stroll on at sunset, under which grapevine to enjoy a Greek coffee and on which island’s seafront should one laze with a glass of ouzo and some octopus? Futile questions for those who love the islands. We all know that if you set your foot in the Aegean, your mind will never leave. And, just between you and me, isn’t this fortunate?

Protected Designation of Origin Products from the Aegean Isles

  • Mykonos Kopanisti
  • Naxos Graviera
  • Lemnos Kalathaki
  • Mytilene Ladotyri
  • Mytilene Kasseri
  • Syros San Michali
  • Samos Olive Oil
  • Chios Throumba Olives
  • Chios Gum
  • Chios Mastic
  • Chios Mastic Oil