In Chania at this time of year the mind wanders, as it does here on most special occasions, to feasting. Families get together, piglets are roasted, fish are baked, turkeys get stuffed (as likely as not with a traditional concoction of minced meat with chestnuts and pine nuts and cinnamon…).
Many will have started the day before, on Christmas Eve, with a long, noisy and well lubricated lunch in the old market building so it is hoped the traditional hangover cure of tripe soup will be on offer in the early hours of Christmas day as it is on other mornings, though perhaps on this occasion our stop-outs will not risk seasonal marital wrath by staying out quite so late…
Though Christmas lunch will vary from household to household, there are two sweet specialties that everyone will be sampling during the festive season: the less damaging one, perhaps, is the kourabie, a sugar dusted shortbread made with ground almond that appropriately looks like a snowball; richer and more oriental is the melomakarono, a moister affair containing cinnamon and orange and dipped in honey syrup… quite delicious and dangerously addictive.
Most of our guests find Crete to be something of a challenge to the waistline… (and we must confess, breakfast at la Maison Ottomane is of no help at all) but exceptional fortitude is required at Christmas.