OFTO (AKA KLEFTIKO)
THE DISH OF THIEVES

 

Ofto Is known as barbecued meat - 'Ofto' or as Kleftiko the dish of thieves.

During the Greek War of Independence in 1821 against the Ottoman Turks, Klefts were guerrilla fighters from Macedonia. Hard done by, and most definitely uncompromising men, klefts were ready for any kind of warlike venture, wherever there was any prospect of rich plunder. 

  

Among their many feats, Klefts famously stole sheep and roasted them slowly over buried fires. This trick prevented the Ottomans from smelling meat and finding them and a free lunch! 

Animal theft was not an uncommon practice, so the cooking smell could bring not only the Ottomans but also the police or the owners of the stolen animals. In the Cretan mountains animal theft was a popular practice up until the 70's. Often showing some form of masculinity. To 'kleftiko', or 'ofto' - a hole must be dug out and filled with wood, the wood would then be lit, the remaining burning embers (charcoal) would be removed and the unskinned animal was placed in the hole. The animal was then covered with soil and the hot charcoal put back on top ensuring the meat was covered and sealed for hours until well cooked. 
  

Originally, 'Ofto tou voskou' a recipe that comes from the Psiloritis Mountain where a stomach was filled with pieces of lamb or kid and was also roasted in a hole covered with soil and charcoal. However, some 19th century cookbooks mention another recipe under the name 'kleftiko'. Roast lamb a la kleftika or lamb ala Graeca, This 1892 recipe's method states that the lamb should be skewed onto a wooden spit along the whole length of its spine and then roasted over a slow fire. Brushed frequently with olive oil, sprinkled with fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano. This of course is how the feast and festival days are still celebrated today.

   

 

Top
Top

 

More food pages
: Wine : Eating Out : Olive Oil : Honey : Ofto : Prickly Pear
: Local Specialities : Recipes : Local Cheese : Wild Mushrooms :

Home

 

Copyright  2009 Only Crete