“Drink this. Is medicine.” Dimitris hands me the shot glass; it looks like a thumbtack in his hands. The medicine in question is tsikoudia or raki for short — a clear spirit from twice distilled grapes. Looking at it, I know there’s a sharp, masochistic burn in my immediate future.
You may know its cousins grappa or ouzo. You may also know that when a Greek — scratch that — a Cretan hands you drink or food, you accept, happily, and then you brace for more like a fighter in the ring who knows they’ve met their match. Except instead of getting your face pummeled, it’s your senses that are in for the ride. The aroma of smoked goat cheese, the sweet surprise of thyme honey, and tomatoes erupting with flavor fresh off the vine — all backed by the crisp, fresh air of Crete.
The medicine, also something of a digestif, couldn’t come at a better time. We’re nearing the end of Grecotel’s ‘Be a Farmer for a Day’ experience at Agreco Farm up a narrow, winding road from Rethymno in the idyllic Cretan island countryside where you can hear the slightest breeze. Crops of grapes and tomatoes cut neat rows along the rolling green hillsides with the occasional narrow, winding road slicing through. The Mediterranean, as blue as the Greek flag itself, is always visible on the horizon.