In every Greek kitchen you will find large jars of dried oregano. It is sometimes called spice, but oregano is an herb that is an important ingredient in the Greek diet. Greeks add them to almost everything: salads, feta, meat, fish, potatoes and legumes.
Scientific studies show that the addition of oregano to meat before heat treatment drastically reduces the formation of carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines, which arise when grilling, baking and frying meat. Oregano is also rich in antioxidants that protect cells, slowing down the aging process and reducing the risk of many diseases - including cancer. In addition, it also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
During one of our trips to Crete, the discovery for us was mountain oregano, which differs from the usual one that is known to all. It smells different, looks and tastes different. It grows high in the mountains on rocks rich in calcium and other important minerals. There are no roads there, so the inhabitants cut them by hand and carry them down. This kind of wild oregano draws a number of substances from the soil, which makes it contain a whole range of minerals and other beneficial substances. Wild oregano is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, and trace amounts of iron, zinc, potassium and vitamins. It is also a forgotten drug from the past, which is one of the oldest known medicinal plants. He already knew the properties of oregano Hippocrates and Aristotle.
The ancient Greeks used them as a medicinal herb and not as a typical kitchen spice. Even today, the effectiveness of wild mountain oregano surprises scientists. Initially, they tried unsuccessfully to prove that oregano has no healing properties. It turned out, however, that it works as a very effective antioxidant and antiseptic. When seasoning dishes with this type of oregano, you do not need much, because it is very aromatic and rubbed dry fingers tend to give off a very strong smell.
Mountain oregano is not available in any spice store. However, it is worth spending some time to find a seller's stall offering this herb. Its price is also higher than the price of ordinary oregano, but the long-lasting smell and intense flavor will make it possible to store them for a long time, which perfectly compensates for its higher cost.
We are not surprised by the fact that many plants growing in Crete have healing properties. In the pages of our site we have written many times about the unusual properties of malotiry, dictamus, purge or oregano. This time, we read that the scientists took another Cretan endemic plant under the microscope. Stamnagathi is a chicory variety growing in the wilderness of the Omalos plateau and the White Mountains. Currently, it is also grown by some garden farms.
The fact that the Mediterranean diet is healthy has been written many times. Scientists are systematically conducting various studies on the effects of this diet on human organisms. In recent weeks, the results of studies have been published, the subject of which was the impact of the Mediterranean diet on the level of sugar in the blood. So what do the Greeks eat that their diet works in such a beneficial way?
Feta is a soft cheese with about 40% fat content. It is also fragile and melts well. Thanks to storage in brine, it retains freshness for a long time. The conditions in which feta ripens affect its taste. It can be spicy, mild or more salty. Greeks usually have their favorite types and buy them.