Volcanic soil and the Aegean breeze: Santorini’s ingredients
Did you know that a visit to Santorini would still be a unique experience even if the island wasn’t as breathtakingly beautiful as it is? Did you know that visitors here enjoy a feast not just for their eyes but also for their taste buds? The dazzling light and the Aegean breeze combined with the island’s fertile volcanic soil nurture the local agricultural products, endowing them with top quality and a unique taste. The most renowned products from Santorini are:
Fava (fava beans)
Used in many recipes, ranging from freshly boiled plain fava to fava with pork or with tomato puree, or as a soup, with rice or in an omelette, these peas are popular with visitors to Santorini thanks to their fine taste.
The magic thing about this variety of aubergine is not just that it has been coloured white by the volcanic soil. It is also that the bitterness sometimes found in aubergines is completely absent and instead the flesh is sweet and juicy.
Both the flowers and the leaves are used in local cuisine for their spicy sharp aroma.
It was in the 18th century that the locals first cultivated this variety of tomatoes, which owe their unique taste to the arid soil of the island.
If there was ever an island worthy of the nickname “the wine island”, then it is undoubtedly Santorini. The excavations at the site of Akrotiri have proved that wine making and trading used to be among the most important activities for prehistoric locals. Several eruptions of the volcano over the centuries caused consecutive layers of volcanic matter, including ash, lava, and pumice to cover the limestone and slate subsoil, forming what the locals call “aspa”, i.e. hard, solid ground. Over the years, grape growers have built terraces using petrified lava stones in order to prevent the soil being eroded by the strong winds, and to help retain what little rain falls. Thanks to geographical factors here, the vines are very healthy: the hot sun and strong winds dry up any dampness on the fruit and prevent diseases and other problems such as mildew and botrytis.
In other words, the principles of organic cultivation are automatically applied here, as the growers are left only with the tasks of sulphuration and pruning. The latter involves the use of a special technique to form a “basket” within which the grapes are protected from the sand carried in the wind.