Edible bulbs

There exist in Crete edible bulbs with great health benefits! Cretans consume a great deal of edible bulbs, known as “skordoulaki” or “volvi” (muscari comosum). They grow quite deeply underground and in relatively high altitudes. They have a characteristic purple flower (attracting a lot of bees in spring) and a height between 20 and 30 cm. Although muscari comosum grows all around the Mediterranean, in most places it is simply unknown. Quite to the contrary, Cretans have been known collect them and consume them since the antiquity. They have proven health benefits, such as the lowering of cholesterol levels and the regulation of blood sugar levels. In addition they are known to aid the function of the human digestive system.

Note that these bulbs are extracted with difficulty as they are quite deeply underground. Their flower has to be spotted first and then the collector has to dig with a hoe to extract them. As it is labour intensive work, wild bulbs are rarely found nowadays. One can easily buy cultivated ones in groceries and street markets all over Crete. They are boiled and preserved in vinegar (kind of pickled), while being served in olive oil as accompaniment to other dishes. They have a characteristic bitter taste that is balanced out by the acidity of the vinegar and the smoothness of the olive oil; a speciality of great value!