Travelling with children can be difficult, particularly if they miss their favourite foods from home. Luckily, Cretan cuisine offers some of the tastiest, healthiest food in the world, ensuring that nobody stays hungry for very long!
It is no surprise that the Cretan food is child-friendly, as the Greek culture is child-friendly too, and children join adults for all meals. Even very young children will stay up late for dinner with the family, which often doesn’t begin until past 9pm in the hot summer months. Almost all Greek restaurants and tavernas welcome children, but don’t expect a kids menu – Greek children eat the same food as the adults!
For a range of tastes and flavours (and less chance of food going to waste) opt for a light lunch of mezze – a selection of small plates that are often served with a glass of strictly-for-adults ouzo. Ntakos is a type of Greek bruschetta, with fresh tomatoes, feta cheese and oregano piled atop a crispy rusk – sure to please any hungry child with its combination of flavours and textures. Meanwhile, small dishes like fava (creamy split peas), keftedakia (meatballs) or saganaki (friend cheese) offer familiarity with a Greek twist, and may prove to be a new family favourite!
Child friendly dishes when eating at a taverna or a restaurant
Most tavernas and restaurants in tourist areas will serve classic western dishes such as burgers, spaghetti and pizza, but the more adventurous will be rewarded for choosing Greek variants including pastitsio (a type of Greek lasagne), moussaka (similar to lasagna but with aubergine instead of pasta), or gyros (kebab wrapped in pitta). If all else fails, a plate of herby, salty potatoes roasted in olive oil is always guaranteed to please, and is rarely omitted from any Cretan chef’s menu.
Children who otherwise might turn their noses up at green vegetables, may be tempted by a warm spanakopita, a tasty spinach and cheese pie, or bowl of arakas latheros (peas cooked in olive oil and tomato). Similarly, sneak some seafood into their diet with a plate of calamari (fried squid) or taramasalata (a bright pink fish roe dip).
For a holiday treat, head to a local bakery or patisserie and indulge in a Cretan sweet. Kaltsounia is a sweet cheese pastry made with fresh myzithra cheese and topped with honey and cinnamon whilst xerotigana are syrup-soaked pastries, often served at weddings to symbolise joy and fertility. For a healthier sweet option, gather a platter of fresh fruit and drizzle with petimezi, a syrup made of grape must (a byproduct of Cretan wine-making) or carob, and top with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt.
At Candia Park village, guests have the opportunity to taste a wide range of traditional Cretan flavours throughout the day,. At the “Agapi” main restaurant, an extensive buffet dinner introduces visitors to local tastes whilst the weekly Cretan evenings feature live music and dancing alongside dinner! For lunch, the “To Fili” Taverna has the ultimate menu featuring speciality dishes – perfect for light lunches in the midday heat. Meanwhile, at the traditional “Kafeneion”, a Cretan raki or Greek ouzo accompanied by a platter of classic island mezze is the perfect evening snack.