Imagine
24.Jun.2015

Chef Yiannis Baxevanis wish on using local

baxevanis inAfter the introduction of the Himalayan salt, that copies the healing properties of the sea salt (plus the iodine used in pharmaceutical)

And after the tasteless Goji Berry, as if we were blinded and we did not know the healing properties of our own Corinthian raisin.

And after the Italian mineral water served in the supposedly posh restaurants of Kolonaki and Mykonos ... now comes the sale of Spanish bottled sea water… to Greece of all places!

I ask myself, how stupid do these clever businessmen think the Greeks are, so they can make money on us.

How smart are we when we accept them to feed us lies?

How can this small country survive where no one is using Greek products? If you are making 100 and spend 300, one day you will lose your house or someone else will take it over!

Below I quote my article with the title "Imagine", I wrote it for the local newspaper in Lassithi-Crete. The article describes what position the restaurants and hotels in Lasithi would, be if everyone was using only local products, and how many people would work closely together ...

Imagine

... I will use the title of John Lennon beautiful song “Imagine” to dedicate the following to Lasithi – a city which helped me stand on my own two feet professionally and develop my personality in the kitchen.

Talking with a fellow chef from a large hotel in the region, he told me that we now offer high quality products and services to our customers, which naturally raise the food costs. For example, we offer at breakfast pineapple and imported bananas in abundance.

So my question to him was: Why import bananas. The small Cretan bananas are delicious and because of their size, look better in the fruit basket! Why import pineapple? Don’t we have exotic fruits, what about our melons, watermelons, figs or plums to give to our foreign visitors? They can eat pineapples in some other places!

My friend C. Karalakis from Ierapetra, planted papayas and golden berries. Honestly, I have not yet tasted better! And so what, they let them rot on the trees, and the hotels opt to buy imported exotic fruit instead. In Thebes and probably in Ierapetra, tomatoes rot in the fields this year, and at the same time large hotels units are using for the summer consumption, Italian canned tomatoes! Giant Lima beans (gigantes) and other legumes are imported (or sometimes canned in Greece). Of course the Turkish “gigantes” sell for 3 € per kilo while the Greek “gigantes” 6 € per kilo. So what? It gives me about 10 to 12 servings per kilo. 0,60- 1 € is the cost per serving… I have room for profit, and at the same time I help my country, give work to those around me and offer better quality!

baxevanis salt

Why have we made the French “fleur de sel” and the Himalayan rock salt a trend, sold at 20 € / kg? We are surrounded by salt! Even if I put three buckets full of seawater on the roof of my house, I will have the most beautiful salt for a whole year once the water evaporates!

Why buy capers from Italy or Turkey? Lassithi is full of wild caper bushes and no one picks them up. Why all the hotels using New Zealand lamb, tasteless and frozen! – And more expensive than the local fresh ones?

Why frozen pre-cooked bread, or ready-made mixes from France and Germany. Don’t we know know how to bake bread in Lassithi? Our “eftazymo” has a crust that makes us proud to serve. Our local rusks are among the top products this land has to offer and our guests go crazy with them.

Why Italian pasta, which can be found anywhere. Greece has respective and competitive pasta producing companies and now even Creta produces high quality pasta that’s been exported overseas.

Why use Gouda and Emmental cheeses in Crete? We can have customers who come exclusively to have our beautiful graviera and mitzithra cheese, sheep thick strained yogurt! Can you compare this yogurt with all the bad imitations that has taken over the breakfast buffets and used for the making of tzatziki? Not worth the price difference.

Why frozen croissants that are almost always of poor quality? Let's offer our customers our famous “mitzithra” cheese pies! Do you think they will complain when they return home that they did not eat croissants in Crete? ... The list of wrongs is endless.

Imagine if all hotels and restaurants in Lasithi were buying local products... if people canned their own tomatoes; and maybe later build a tomato production business.
Imagine having our own pasta manufacturing plants
Imagine planting more banana trees
Imagine people raising their own livestock, pork, lambs and cows -why not? Like they do in Mani and Mykonos.
Imagine more local cheese and cold meat making industries.
Imagine farms producing wheat and baking local breads.
Imagine having more women associations and bakeries to supply the hotels.
Imagine planting more fig trees, oranges, lemons, apricots and producing local produce and fresh fruit jams.
Imagine having another 2 or 3 fish farms, local fish is clearly better than imports, which take at least 5- 6 days to get here and full of preservatives.
Imagine gathering our salt from own salt farms.
Imagine collecting our wild greens in the winter, freeze them to use in summer.
Imagine how much more delicious our cuisine would be!
Imagine how many more people would work during the winter and summer! Imagine the money which will be left in the country.

And finally, imagine tourists returning home, how they will advertise the fact that they only ate local produce in Lassithi!

This is not a dream; it is not far away from reality if the local authorities take the step, it is our will that will keep us together.

Imagine!!

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