It seems that the plants on the island of Crete are like the Cretans themselves: they do not grieve over what isn’t there, but rejoice in what is available. If there is no fresh water, the sea water is good; if there is no soil, a rocky ground is not bad! The amazing plant crithmum maritimum (Κριταμος), which survives in spite of all the winds on the wet rocks of the coast, probably follows this rule. It is not just surviving but also delicious!
Its fleshy and aromatic leaves are slightly bitter and taste like salty dill. Hence its other name is sea dill or fennel. They say that fresh crispy leaves go well as an appetizer (“meze” in Greek) for ouzo or raki. They can be added to salads and marinades, as well as to something canned for future use. When adding this fragrant seasoning to fish sauce or omelet, do not forget that salt is no longer required.
Scientists (including the ancient ones) claim that, in addition to salt, the plant contains a unique cocktail of useful substances: iodine, vitamins, mineral salts, omega-3 fat, and also has a strong antibacterial and antimicrobial effect. Therefore, it is used not only in cooking but also in pharmaceuticals (as a diuretic, blood purifier and general tonic) and in cosmetology.
Kritamos is harvested in June, July. We encourage those lucky ones who at this time will be near the Voulisma beach (https://thenewgreece.com/recreation/the-beach-of-vulisma-golden-beach/), near the resort village of Istro (on the road between Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra belonging to Kalo Chorio community (the latter name means “a good place” https://thenewgreece.com/advise/kalo-chorio-lasithi-crete/) to take a basket and go through the beach in direction opposite Kalo Chorio: there is there plenty of kritamos! Cut them carefully without damaging roots so as not to leave the rocks bare for ensuring that bitter crispy leaves will be also found there by those who come to Crete later.
Visit the mythical island of Crete to touch its history. Be sure to try the local food and wine. Professionals, English-speaking residents of the island will help you to decide what to see, plan the best, interesting route for you and help you choose a car for your travel. Contact the company The New Crete thenewrentcar.com.