The Perfume of Crete

What do you smell when the odor is constantly around you? Nothing? No difference? Your nose picks up the same scent and cannot recognize it any more? Well, I think that is what happens with you on Crete. So, to desensitize your olfactory system, follow the steps of this little experiment: Close the windows of your car, switch on the air condition and drive for a couple of kilometers. Stop at the side of the road where the hillside and the breeze brings the smells to you, preferably in the morning or the early evening. Open the car door, wait! Now, breathe in through your nostrils. Smell that? Yes, you do. A symphony of rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, jasmine, salvia and maybe a bit of goat droplets to make it authentic. Go on breathing and enjoy the sensation, the perfume of Crete. Repeat.

You'll be addicted like we are. Addicted to the smells of Crete, you may ask? How come? How does it show? This way...

Once you have recognized and distinguished the various herbs you tend to touch them, rub your hands on rosemary, cuddle with the amazing bushes of basil that homeowners keep in big pots. On open markets you pick up small bundles of herbs, press them against you nose and breathe in as if your life depends on it. Then you see it everywhere and anywhere, the mint that is grown in front of cocktails bars to provide the most important ingredient for the Mojito. Thyme plants in the backyard of restaurants to get the recipe for the goat cutlets in honey and thyme just right. You walk the narrow streets of Rethymno and stop at the smell of a jasmine bush, pick the flowers to hold them against your nose and walk on, like pure oxygen you feel uplifted, happy, remembering moments in your life that were filled with divinity. When you work your way up the herbal scent ladder, flowers become irresistible. Ignore the people chuckling when they see you heads down in the flower beds, smelling every blossom like a hungry bee. Don't think about it. Keep humming the melody of Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" and enjoy the perfume of Crete.


A different kind of basil that grows in bushes and has purple blossoms, not white.