Savvy travelers read reviews and seek out the best restaurants wherever they may be in the world. Can we be brave enough to say they might be missing some of the very best tasting experiences out there? So far in our travels around the world, we’d judge the most delicious fruits and vegetables are found in the farm markets on the island of Crete.
Maybe it’s the long and hot sunny days – day after day – that produce those delicious tastes? Summers here bring very little rain and maybe that’s the key. We’ve tried peaches and a few kinds of melon in Crete, and each has been intensely sweet – the effect of dry growing conditions, we think.
We purchased whole melons at the Thursday and Saturday farm markets in Chania, at the large grocery, and purchased cut and wrapped pieces at an outdoor neighborhood market on our lane. No matter. Melons are perfectly ripe at the time of sale and oh-so-tasty. The lovely looking peaches bear scant relation to the fruit by that name we’ve eaten in years past. Crete peaches are – in a word – luscious.
Did we mention the cost for such tasty produce? It embarrasses us to say how little we paid for the bounty we carted home each week from the farm market. It’s even more embarrassing that some of the vendors smiled and whisked us away with a wave meaning “no charge” when we tried to buy a single red pepper or only 2 lemons.
Our first visit to the market put us in a tizzy trying to convert the weight (from kilos into pounds) and the money (euros to dollars). Hmm. We hesitated while Beth did the math calculations. The price was a fraction of what we used to pay back hom – or in Australia, or New Zealand – where we’d just spent six months.
We’d never read anything about Crete’s wonderful food – specifically its produce. We’re guessing it’s because most visitors eat all of their meals in the local tavernas and cafes. If so, a great experience is missed when not tasting produce straight from the farm market.
Great food doesn’t always come from a master chef. The taste of a fresh melon or peach on Crete would prove that point.
We have found the best food in the markets too. It’s fresh and local, and we love that. We do wonder why our food here in Australia is so expensive, when we grow it all here. Every time we travel overseas we make this same observation. I think it has a lot to do with governmental policies.
We heard in both New Zealand and Australia that farmers and farm workers are better paid than in many other countries. Don’t know if that is a fact. We spoke with a MP in NZ who felt that, even so, food is priced too low. Our son is a farmer in the US, and we know that local, sustainable farmers don’t make what most of us would call a living wage.
That’s probably true because we have a minimum wage here that has to be paid. That is why Australians generally don’t tip, because the wages are high.