Sunday, 31 May 2009


Foodies. Apparently, they love food. But do they really know what they're eating, and where their food comes from in the first place? How many foodies can score full marks on this quiz?

1. Here's a really easy one: what colour are these little green blobs going to be in October?
1.CIMG7181 2.CIMG6988
2. This isn't so easy: what are those fresh green pods (and old brown ones) hanging on the branches?

3. These green apple-shaped balls look good enough to eat now, but they won't be ripe enough until late August.
3.P5010034 4.P5010035
4. If you cut and dry these now, they'll make a mild relaxing tea in the winter.

5. What colour are these spiky balls going to be in late September?
5.P5010036 6.P5010037
6. What wild leafy greens grow from the seeds of the plant that gives this bright yellow flower?

7. These beautiful pink flowers bring out one of the sexiest fruits imaginable. What are they?
7.P5010049 8.CIMG7155
8. No, it's not a walking stick. It's edible, but you know it in a much shorter form.

9. What are these white blossoms going to be when they grow up?
9.CIMG6999 10.P5010066
10. What are these furry worms going to turn into when they get older?

11. What can be made from these tiny green blobs?
11.CIMG7230 12.CIMG7232
12. These little buds will grow into a very large crop. What is it?

Leave a comment on this post with the numbered answers and you may win this book,
which is filled with similar recipes that I have already written about. Now you won't have to drag the laptop in the kitchen or print out the recipe when you want to cook Cretan food.

This competition will run for a week. The winner will be announced some time in the following week, where I will also give the answers. If you want to take part, please make sure I can track you down (ie don't leave an anonymous comment). The winner will be picked randomly, even if they don't know all the answers; hey, neither did I until I came to live here!

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Dragon lily

arapis drakontia hania chania
Drakontia, also known as arapis ('the Arab', meaning 'black'), in my neighbourhood

When I first came to Hania, I came across this lily, and fell in love with it immediately. With its deep purple colour and impressively patterned leaves, I thought it would make a beautiful centrepiece. My aunt took one look at it and screamed in horror: "Get it out of here!" I quickly discovered that, despite its unique appearance, drankontia (the dragon flower) is so stinky and toxic that not even animals will touch it, which shows how much cleverer they are than the uninitiated human being. Flies are its pollinators: the flower traps them overnight so that they can perform this job; maybe they serve as temporary fly traps in orchards, allowing the trees to maintain their health.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Olive tree

olive tree vamvakopoulo hania chania

This olive tree is very old. It must be close to 100. It's located in an olive grove not far from my home, among many other very old trees just like it.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

View north

the view from upper kalithea hania chania

The view facing north from the road near our house. We would have this view if our house were one more storey higher than it was built. But if we walk two minutes up the road (before it starts going down), this is what we see.The road leads through fields until it comes out on the main busy road skirting the beach.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

The view

the view from kalithea hania chania

A lovely clear view from the balcony of our house. Can you see the ferry boat? (A building slightly blocks its full view.) We can see it leaving from the harbour every night. Not only that, but the view is clear enough for us to discern which ship from the ANEK fleet is tied up every day.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Garden cafe

kipos cafe hania chania
Kipos cafe, in the municipal park of Hania; a great place to rest and people-watch, but at a price: these two items came to 6.20 euro (never mind the fact that we have about 600 orange trees in our village fields). At least the toilets were worth it.
kipos cafe hania chania

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


view of halepa from koum kapi hanai chania

Looking from Koum Kapi to the suburb of Halepa.

Less than a hundred years ago, the suburb of Halepa, just one kilometre east of the town, was filled with high society. the grnadeur of the place can still be seen by the large buildings with their neo-classiscal architecture. This is where foreign embassies were once located. Hania was then the capital of the island state of Crete (a title it lost in 1971 to Iraklio), which had not as yet formally joined the union of states that formed the newly created Hellenic Republic, what is now known as Greece. Crete joined Ellas in 1913, after which foreign embassies were no longer needed on the island.

Evagelistria church can be seen on the left (the blue dome), while the large looking building on the right located on the coastline is a function venue (called Honolulu). The older buildings and houses are clearly discernible among the newer high rise apartment blocks, which are all built around the older part of the area, stretching up into the hills.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Disappearing snow

The snow on the Lefka Ori has almost but disappeared.

disappearing snow

This shows how hot it has been all of a sudden for the past two weeks. Even though the snow fell very late this season, and there was a lot of rainfall, other years have seen snow stay on the mountains until mid-June, which is still a month away.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Postcard from Crete

A postcard view of Greek spring time: whitewash, stone walls and wildflowers growing in amongst the rocks. Summer is only round the corner...

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Menu board

Konaki Restaurant by the old harbour was sporting this mantinada:

"What you are going to eat, my friend,
In the company of the Lyre,
Staka and Wedding pilaf rice
Which is the Greek Viagra."

(Please excuse me for the out of focus photo)

Monday, 11 May 2009


The beautiful Byzantine church of St Nicholas in Kiriakoselia, a village in the Apokoronas region, retains a small very well kept cemetery within its yards. The village itself has almost been wiped off the map, but the graves are still lovingly tended by the families whose ancestors are buried here. The actual church was built in the middle of the 10th centruy, and is one of the most intact remnants of this time period in Greece.

CIMG6999 st nicholas kiriakoselia hania chania
st nicholas kiriakoselia hania chania
st nicholas kiriakoselia hania chania st nicholas kiriakoselia hania chania

The most notable part of this particular family tomb is the photographs of the older generation, wearing the trdaditional Cretan costume. The fact that these people were photographed shows their important status in the society of the time.

Greek tombs are never very elaborate. They usually state only the names and dates of the deceased and contain a small closed box where photos, candles and incense can be placed, as well as oil for lighting a lamp in memory of the dead. The handles on this tomb are there simply to make it easier to lift the marble to add another member of the family when it is their turn...

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Coffee with a view but not a smell

Enjoying a cappuccino and a good book at Koum Kapi.

The housing settlement on the promontory in the left hand side of the photo is relatively new. The houses in this area, called Koumbeli, are very modern, nearly all of them less than 15 years old. It is considered a rather posh area, mainly due to the middle-class (and above) residents.

It is also the smelliest area in Hania; there are days when the 150 privileged people who live there cannot open their windows due to the retching stink that pervades the air. Koumbeli is located just above the waste management plant where the waste of the whole town is 'cleaned' before being thrown into the sea...

Friday, 8 May 2009

Al fresco menu

dining al fresco venetian harbour old port hania chania

Outdoor dining in Hania - great place to chill out.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Sunset at the harbour

Sunset at the harbour, after two days of rainfall.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Spring rain

After all the sunshine and good weather that we have been having recently, we got just what we had been hoping for: a good rain shower.

In Crete, it stops raining some time in May, and not a drop of water falls from the sky until at least mid-September. We love it; it cleans up the town and ensures our water supply over the summer period. Only the tourists might have been disappointed.

This particular shower lasted from early evening Sunday until early afternoon Monday, and it was very heavy, as can be seen by the state of our recently planted garden.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The old port

We took a stroll down by the old port of Chania last night. It was full of happy people enjoying a perfect evening. A close-up will reveal that nearly every cafe, taverna, bar and restaurant had business. That's a very democratic spread of the trade.

May is one of the best times to visit Hania. The weather is warm without being too chilly and the outdoor entertainment areas will have been painted, renovated, cleaned or spruced in some other way just two months before, after the few cold months when tourism in Hania goes into hibernation, so that everything in the tourist areas looks fresh.

Without using any photo enhancements, I managed to capture the lights of the various businesses around the port casting their reflection in the water.

Friday, 1 May 2009


ramni hania chania

Seen outside a deserted house in Ramni, Hania, Crete, where we celebrated Protomayia (1st of May).