Students study food, culture in Greece



Students make spinach balls in Aegina during winter intersession in Greece.Photo provided by Judy Myhand

Truly experiencing a culture is worlds apart from learning about it in a classroom.

In Nutrition and Food Sciences 3114 with instructor Judy Myhand, students travel to Greece during winter intersession to explore the role food plays in a foreign country.  
Beginning with a ferry ride to an island in the Saronic Gulf, this year’s trip was the best one yet, Myhand said.

First stop: Aegina, Greece where students learned to cook spinach balls, observed a priest make cheese from sheep and goat milk, strolled through a pistachio farm and ended the day at an olive press.

The New Year called for a celebration in a replica of an ancient Cretan village, and the surrounding days consisted of a trip to the Diamantakis Winery and lengthy mealtimes at local gastropubs.
It is common in Greece to carve out several hours of the day to prepare for a meal and then eat as the focus is on the quality time that comes with eating in good company.

“In Crete, they take pride in their local foods and wines, and it’s obvious why they do,” Myhand said.

One of the first wine presses from ancient times was discovered in Crete during a time when grapes were an important agricultural crop vital to livelihood and community.Greece New Year

The Mediterranean diet consists of more than wine with olive oil and honey accenting plenty of courses filled with meat.
For a mountainside lunch, the group found themselves at “the best traditional gastronomic center of Cretan diet,” the Ntoyniae Tavern.

“The view overlooking the mountains shows cows, chickens and pork raised by the chef that
are used for meals at the restaurant,” according to the students’ blog, “Great pride is taken in knowing exactly where the food is coming from, what the animals are eating and that everything is free range and free of pesticides.”
The trip ended in an exploration of the Peloponnese peninsula where adventure unfolded in the seaport town of Nafplion and ancient sites Mycenae and Epidaurus.

Nothing compares to making many wonderful, lasting friendships while eating traditional celebration foods, Myhand said, the group cannot wait to go back.