Much of the Cretan culture and social interaction includes having a meal together as a family. Guests are always welcome at family meals, and if you hint that you might be coming over, expect a full three-course meal!
The Cretans and Greeks celebrate baptisms, weddings, and feast days by having numerous rows of banquet-style tables and plenty of food. No invitations are needed and even unexpected guests are welcomed.
While the daily food is simple, it is always delicious and uses the freshest ingredients. Many villagers eat vegetarian meals especially during religious fasting seasons. However, when guests are expected, the host will usually offer several types of meats and a wide selection of other foods at the table.
Villagers still slaughter their own livestock, including pigs, goats, lambs, and chickens if needed. If the villagers buy meat from someone else, they will need to know where the animal was from, what it was fed, and when it was slaughtered.
There are several weekly pizarris (outdoor markets) in the surrounding villages that offer the freshest produce, including local fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, and cheeses. Most villages have a bakery that bakes fresh bread every morning.
Breakfast is very small and might include bread and coffee or milk. Lunch is typically a large meal eaten inside of the house around noon and is followed by a siesta. Dinner is much later and is usually held outside. As villagers take an evening walk they are often invited into the patio area for a drink and meze (snack).
Many households have an outdoor wood-burning stove (ksilofourno) which is used fairly often and produces the most tender meats and potatoes.