Now that we talked about flour, outstanding cheese, vegetables as well as wild greens herbs it is time to focus on combining them to produce delicious pies. Crete can boast for its pies that are nutritious, delicious and healthy! Pies have always been a basic source of nutrition for Cretans; even in the most remote villages people collected wild bitter greens from nature which apart from consuming them on their own, they were converting them into delicious pies, the famous bitter green pies (“chortopites”). Women knew well how to make filo pastry at home. Then divided the filo dough into smaller patches, prepared the filling out of the collected greens, wrapped the filling around each patch of dough and the pies were ready to be pan fried and consumed; such an irresistible dish for children and adults alike made of the simplest and cheapest ingredients.
Of course there are various ways of making Cretan pies and also various types of pies. We described above a version of pies smaller in size that are pan fried in olive oil. The filling of such pies can be wild greens, spinach, cheese (such as mizithra or feta), onions or combinations of some of the previous. Note that such pies with the filling of the naturally sweet mizithra cheese are perfect for dessert, usually topped with Cretan thyme honey. Another very delicious and popular dessert pie in western Crete is the Sfakian pie (“sfakiani pita”). This is a very flat pie the size of a medium plate containing sour mizithra (“xinomizithra”). It is cooked on a flat pan without oil and served topped with thyme honey. The sourness of the cheese is fantastically balanced out by the sweetness of the honey thereby producing a culinary outcome not to be forgotten.
Another type of popular pies is large in size and oven baked. The wrapping is filo pastry sprinkled with olive oil and the filling can again be diverse and creative; wild greens are often there as well as butternut squash (“kolokitha”), feta cheese, graviera cheese and spinach. These pies after baking are divided into pieces and eaten, usually as a starter or even a snack. In general pies play a crucial role in Cretan diet and are great source of protein and fiber while being delicious. One can rarely encounter another place on earth that values pies so much as the island of Crete.