Cyclades: mill’s mast, plow, soft cheese and oar, goat, radish and desiccated tomato, grain of barley, fish scales, octopus tentacle, a drop of olive oil and a dash of vinegar.
Cyclades: sea, shipyards, small lands, sun, wind and Homer’s seashores.
The Cyclades are a handful of windswept, sea-beaten islands of exceptional beauty in the middle of the Aegean. The myth says that they circle around Delos, the birth place of Apollo and Artemis. Their history is long and rich. They have been molded by time into enduring trading centers, important sea passages and homelands of esteemed mariners. At times, they served as pirate havens, at other times as Venetian and Frank territories. The movement of populations opened new horizons. With the early arrival of tourism, the stakes are high: the wager is to preserve the identity, distinctiveness and natural beauty of the islands.
An element of this cultural identity is Cycladic cooking, infused with sea, scarce land, symmetry and Hellenic spirit. Unusual products, celebrated wines, distinctive dishes with countless variations from island to island, are the main corpus of a living tradition found in Cycladic homes. A perpetual cycle starting with the salt of the frothing waves that season the grass that feeds the animals, who in turn offer their renowned meat and meat products, as well as the first-rate milk that churns rare cheese products from present-day creameries, private homes and cottage industries. This same deliciousness characterizes the cuisine of the Cyclades as pans release the scent of fennel, ovens enfold goodness flavored with rosemary and wild oregano (throubi), pots burst with the essence of caramelized garlic, onions and dehydrated tomatoes, while sun-kissed octopi and fresh fish sizzle on the grill. Feasts, time-honored pig slaughters, revered holidays reveal remarkable gastronomy essentials and practices.
We who live and work in the Cyclades today, enjoying the rich offerings, tastes and aromas born of our islands out of the union of water, fire and air, aspire to:
-Sustain local products and produce as an inalienable part of everyday diet and cooking,
-Endorse these local products and produce, so that they become known inside and outside of Greece,
-Vigorously stand by those who cultivate and manufacture local produce and products,
-Make sure that the devoted cooks that use local products and produce, can identify and find them available, so that the fragrance and taste of the Cyclades pervade both time-honored and contemporary food preparation.
Our purpose is to:
-Create a large network of producers, restaurant owners, chefs, cooks,
-Each extend our hand in a spirit of cooperation, solidarity, love and friendship,
-Share recipes, raw materials and eating practices,
-Keep the nutritional wealth of the Cyclades alive.
“Cuisine is a ship that sails”
Let us sail then from island to island, into the unified gastronomic destination that is the Cyclades, with our antennas’ outstretched, open to that which is novel, yet with reverence for that which informs tradition, collective memory, quality, seasonality and dietary ethos.
Let us seek out contemporary and balanced fusions that rest on the succulent backbone of Cycladic cuisine, so that we may enjoy the goods of the land with our foreign and Greek visitors.
The Manifesto of Cycladic Cuisine is an idea by Elias Mamalakis, written in collaboration with Dimitris Rousounelos.