SALAD WITH MANTILIDES (ANTHEMIDA)
I never tire of talking about the Cretan diet, the eating habits our grandparents had, how they cultivated their fields and gardens to produce healthy food, how they took care of hens and rabbits in their coops, how they raised the pig to slaughter it at Christmas, how they milked their goats to have fresh milk in their house, how they came out with their basket to gather greens, snails and mushrooms, how they prepared the oven for baking sweets and foods, how they made myzithras and trachanas and a thousand other things. What can I do?
It all looks like an old-fashioned movie with many protagonists. I’d like to relive those old black-and-white images from the past and have all the pleasure of tasting homemade food from the village in a neat area without electricity and refrigerators, without TV, with parasols and a fireplace, with food cooked on wood and many wine barrels. What a joy that would be!
And that's when my wish came true. I found myself in the village of Kyparissi, here in Heraklion, at the traditional tavern of Giannis Somarakis, who cuts a biblical figure resembling a priest with his white beard. His friends even call him “Priest"!
In a place with little light, such as in the past when they had lamps and lanterns, I was lucky enough to taste homemade food from local producers. We tasted wine of his own production, matured in wood barrels, each bearing the name of his children. Homemade food, baked potatoes, greens-based omelets, cheeses, Cretan rusk bread made by village women, and a salad with lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and mantilides. I couldn’t believe it! It's like somebody teasing me. To tell you the truth, I went crazy with its taste.
Mantilides are no other than a white or yellow daisy whose scientific name is Anthemida and they fill the fields in spring. When we were young children we used the daisies to play “loves me, loves me not”.
At the first opportunity I made a homemade salad with mantilides, as the fields are now full of them and they’re very easy to find. I invite you to enjoy it together.
Cut only the leaves and the part of the stalk that is soft.
I'm not telling you quantities because everything is approximate, depending on which vegetables you want and the amount of salad you will make.
Clean and wash the vegetables very well. Chop them into a bowl.
Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and mix.
I guarantee you will be thrilled by the taste and aroma.