The worth of cheese as a food was such to the ancient Greeks that they called it a "gift from the Gods".The first appearance of milk from the wild goat or sheep as a foodstuff is in Greek mythology:
Zeus as a baby was taken by his mother Rhea to a cave on Mount Dikte in Crete – for fear of his murderous father, Kronos. Here he was brought up in the charge of a goat (Amalthea) on a diet of dairy goods.
Livestock rearing on Crete has scarcely changed since then. It relies on the smaller beasts – goat and sheep, not cows. They are free-range or stabled (at the mandra): their foodstuffs are almost entirely wild herbs and shrubs.
The traditional cheese is not only viewed as something to eat, but also as a substance that bears witness in its flavour to the plants, the savoury preferences and the lifestyle prevailing at its point of origin.
At a formal gathering or the family table, no Cretan meal is complete without its cheese. Superior gourmands will take their watermelon with feta, their honeydew with graviera and consume mizithra with honey!
Cheeses of Crete
Cheese is consumed in Crete at any hour of the day – morn to midnight: as an accompaniment or as the main ingredient, as appetizer or for dessert.