Local Products Galore

img_6685

Almost a week on this island and I don’t know how I could be more in love with it. Naxos has beautiful beaches and great weather. Interesting stories and ruins which bring to life some of the Greek mythology we’ve grown up with. Great food and architectural aesthetic-the list goes on and on.

It’s hard to pick just one thing, but I think if I had to, the thing I love most about Naxos is that it is largely self sufficient, producing most of the food it consumes and then some. The largest of the Cycladic Islands, Naxos has large valleys and plains with fertile soil for many things.

Potatoes and Other Agricultural Products

The Naxos potato is celebrated throughout Greece. They produce so much here that they export them. I can attest to how delicious they are.  Golden colored with a mild, almost sweet flavor, we’ve been eating plenty of them in the form of french fries and have even been cooking them ourselves.  On our first trip to the market we bought a big bag of them.

Why are they so delicious? Well, the soil composition and semi-arid conditions are normally attributed to the good flavor.  I would add that the celebration of them as something special and desirable contributes to that sweet taste.

Pulses (beans and lentils), olives, figs, grapes and herbs are a few of the other major crops grown on the island. Olive oil, wines and other products are made from these.

Animal Products

img_6675
Homemade ‘Naxian Salad’ with xinomizithra cheese

Cows, sheep, pigs and goats are all kept on Naxos. Fresh cows milk, yogurt, and cheeses are all produced on island.

The cheeses.  Oh my goodness the cheeses are so good.  There are about 4-5 varieties which are traditionally attributed to Naxos and are produced and celebrated here.  Although if you ask any Naxian cheese maker how many varieties there are the answer is ‘sooooooo many’!

Our first nibble was when we ordered a ‘Naxian salad’ from a restaurant.  It was a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and capers with xinomizithra (sour) cheese on top. It was delicious. We now make our own every day or so.

Wine and Kitro

How could a place call itself self-sustaining without producing it’s own booze?!

Naxos has been producing it’s own wine for a long time.  According to legend, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry, was born here.  He gifted Naxos with fertile land with which to grow grapes, make wine and be happy.

Wine making is a family tradition here where most families have their own vineyards. There are also plenty of bottled varieties. So far we’ve been sticking with the organic ouzo we came across but will certainly try a wine or two before we leave.

Kitro is something special. It’s a syrupy liqueur with a slight citrus flavor. It’s made from the leaves of the kitron or citron tree and has been produced here for over two centuries.

Apiculture

Beekeeping is alive and well on Naxos.  There are about 4,000 hives on the island and many different labels can be found in the markets. The bees mostly feed on thyme and heather and also on sage and oregano as these are the typical plants they will come across. Delicious in some creamy Naxos yogurt.

I want the place I live in to be more like this. To produce and celebrate it’s own sustenance. To share this harvest with the rest of the world, in an interdependent kind of way which does not diminish or exploit the hard work of the people here, but cherishes and protects it.

This kind of lifestyle does not appear to be creating lots of super rich people. But it is creating people who live a meaningful and fulfilling life. A healthy and happy life.

Perhaps that is just how Dionysus planned it 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naxos vs. Kauai – a throwdown

We just moved into our new place here on Naxos, our home for the next month. As I sit in this little beach bar doing a couple hours of work, I thought I’d SQUIRREL! take a few moments to inventory and see how this place compares to my home back on Kauai.

How Naxos and Kauai are similar

  • much sun, much water
  • warm and welcoming to visitors
  • lots of casual beach culture
  • mountains, all over the place
  • It’s Five ‘o’clock somewhere. All. The. Time. Mai Tais, anyone?
  • great local food – poke, organic rum, and poi on Kauai; tzatziki, uzo, and honey-yogurt on Naxos
  • public wifi is very common; widespread access to the laptop lifestyle if you look
  • amazing, profound local culture with roots going back a long way
  • traffic rules are pretty chill
  • most evertywhere feels very safe
  • lesbian-gay-friendly
  • both have an off-season, where it’s still beautiful but ( even ) more affordable and ( even ) less crowded
  • kinda diverse visitor base
  • there’s always a chance you’ll see someone famous

great things about Naxos

img_9361
The Naxos sunset
  • most places open late, including car rentals and street grocers
  • most everything is very inexpensive
  • soooooo many  beach bars/cafes, right on the beach
  • no American points of stress – guns, politics, religion – are nonexistent here
  • quads are street-legal
  • freakishly clear water
  • very self-sustaining; serious food production and export happening here
  • way cheap inter-island transport
  • ruins. Who doesn’t like ancient culture?
  • freebie after dinner
  • more arid – less humidity, less allergies, and less rain
  • traffic rules are more like guidelines
  • many mom & pop hotel/stay options, as well as independent food options
  • stray animal kindness – cats are fed leftovers, given special dishes outside people’s homes, and mingle freely in the outdoor spaces. Dogs are treated well, but are much less common
  • [edit] no centipedes or roaches!
  • also, if it’s your thing…
    • european beer – lots of variety, and inexpensive
    • less conservative – more bare skin on the beach
    • smoking in bars, cafes, and restaurants
    • more dudes in Speedos

great things about Kauai

img_5608
The Kauai sunset.
  • it’s tropical – lush – wet and green all the time
  • there’s English everywhere, all the time
  • for Americans, it’s easy to get to, relatively speaking
  • there’s surfing, in many varieties
  • everything is kept up – very little graffiti or crumbling infrastructure, no abandoned structures ( except for CoCo Palms, of course! )
  • more choices for American beer ( and other products )
  • spirit of aloha prevelent
  • no smoking in bars, cafes, or restaurants
  • it’s all in dollars – not cheap, but you already have them in your wallet ( if you’re American, that is )
  • shipping things to the mainland US is a sure thing, and not a roll of the dice
  • everything closes down early – a pretty sleepy place
  • you can flush the toilet paper. You don’t know how great this is until you can’t do it.
  • a very organized rescue and response infrastructure, just in case
  • traffic – the streets, signs, traffic laws and enforcement you’re used to
  • because it’s in the US – language, military, border restrictions, symbols – although different, Kauai is probably tucked more snugly inside American visitors’ comfort zones
  • easier to stay connected to American sportzing via sports bars
  • intentional culture – very little littering, premium on organic goods and processes
  • less speedos

 

Is there a winner to this throwdown?

Kauai is home, so I won’t be moving there too soon. But so far there doesn’t seem to be a clear “winner” for me.