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Article

Chorta (Wild Greens) in Central Crete: The Bio-Cultural Heritage of a Hidden and Resilient Ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet

1
University of Gastronomic Sciences, 12042 Pollenzo, Italy
2
Department of Medical Analysis, Tishk International University, Erbil 4401, Iraq
3
Department of Crop Sciences and Agroforestry, Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Campus Praha-Suchdol, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, 16500 Prague, Czech Republic
4
Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, 30172 Venezia, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Panayiotis Dimitrakopoulos
Biology 2022, 11(5), 673; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11050673
Received: 28 March 2022 / Revised: 22 April 2022 / Accepted: 25 April 2022 / Published: 27 April 2022
Wild greens (WGs) are thought to have played a crucial role in the post-Neolithic Mediterranean diets of the Near East and the Mediterranean. The current study reports the bio-cultural diversity of WGs (Chorta) in Central Crete. Comparison with some Greek historical data of the 19th and 20th centuries shows that WGs have remained resilient and are still crucial in the daily Cretan diet, with an important role played by weedy Asteraceae species. Cross-cultural comparison with the WGs gathered and consumed in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean demonstrates a remarkable diversity of Cretan WGs and important similarities with those consumed in Greek-speaking Cyprus, the Bodrum area of Turkey, coastal Syria, and Southern Italy. The implications of Cretan Chorta for both historical studies of the Mediterranean Diet and for promoting WGs-centered food heritage are discussed.
An ethnobotanical field study focusing on traditional wild greens (WGs) was carried out in Central Crete, Greece. Through thirty-one semi-structured interviews, a total of fifty-five wild green plants and their culinary uses and linguistic labels were documented; they were mostly consumed boiled (vrasta) or fried (tsigariasta), as a filling for homemade pies. Comparison with some Greek historical data of the 19th and 20th centuries showed that WGs have remained resilient and are still present in the current Cretan diet. Cross-cultural comparison with the WGs gathered and consumed in other areas of the Central and Eastern Mediterranean demonstrated a remarkable diversity of Cretan WGs and important similarities with those consumed in Greek-speaking Cyprus, the Bodrum area of Turkey, coastal Syria, and Southern Italy. We discussed the cognitive categories linked to Chorta, as well as the possible origin of an original “bulk” of post-Neolithic food weeds that could have spread from the Fertile Crescent westwards across the Mediterranean basin over a few millennia. The current study represents a crucial effort to document and preserve the bio-cultural gastronomic heritage of Chorta and it is advisable that both biology and history scholars, as well as policy makers, pay needed attention to the WGs of the Cretan and Mediterranean diet. View Full-Text
Keywords: ethnobotany; wild food plants; Mediterranean diet; food heritage; Greece ethnobotany; wild food plants; Mediterranean diet; food heritage; Greece
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pieroni, A.; Sulaiman, N.; Sõukand, R. Chorta (Wild Greens) in Central Crete: The Bio-Cultural Heritage of a Hidden and Resilient Ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet. Biology 2022, 11, 673. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11050673

AMA Style

Pieroni A, Sulaiman N, Sõukand R. Chorta (Wild Greens) in Central Crete: The Bio-Cultural Heritage of a Hidden and Resilient Ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet. Biology. 2022; 11(5):673. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11050673

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pieroni, Andrea, Naji Sulaiman, and Renata Sõukand. 2022. "Chorta (Wild Greens) in Central Crete: The Bio-Cultural Heritage of a Hidden and Resilient Ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet" Biology 11, no. 5: 673. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11050673

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