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Ikaria gets a taste of Jamie Oliver

- by Dabs Banner

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver enjoyed a taste of the Greek island of Ikaria recently to learn more about the local cuisine.

Ikaria is famous for the longevity of its inhabitants which many put down to a healthy lifestyle and the island diet of fresh vegetables.

The small Greek island, which lies in the Dodecanese group off the Turkish coast, has been the subject of extensive research into the role played by diet and food in the longevity and quality of life of its inhabitants.

The 40-year-old TV chef visited the coastal resort village of Armenistis where he tasted local dishes of pan-fried mullet, pumpkin rolled in pastry, Ikarian herb pie and the island's own version of 'kopanisti' cheese.

Jamie appeared to enjoy his visit to Ikaria and the taste of traditional Ikarian dishes. He posted messages to fans and followers on social media about his love for Greek food.

Comments included: "Delicious simple food cooked by a Greek mum...all homemade; the cheese, bread, herb pie and very very tasty peas and broad beans cooked in a fabulous way slowly with fennel and extra virgin olive oil...I'm even loving the table cloth...It's all good learning lots and being well looked after...Big love, Jamie".

The Greek mum was Madame Maria, who runs the local taverna, Mary Mary, and Jamie donned an apron to learn how to make 'trahana', which he described on a Facebook post as: 'very historical healthy whole grain cracked wheat cooked with goat's milk soured and dried in the sun'.

The celebrity chef and restaurant chain owner didn't forget to mention the world famous Greek salad, which he described as 'beautifully simple ... with juicy tomatoes, olives and crumbly feta! Proper, bold flavours and super fresh ingredients'.

And he had words too for the people of Ikaria saying: "A huge thank you to all the amazing people I met and worked in Ikaria. This island touched my heart. A separate place with wonderful nature. Can not wait to go back."

The famous chef also published photos of his brush with the food and cooking of Ikaria on the social media site Instagram.

According to research, the inhabitants of Ikaria are ten times more likely to reach their 90th birthday than the rest of Europe.

Researchers claim the Ikarian road to long life is daily physical exercise and a regular diet of fish, fruit and vegetables. The research by the University of Athens in 2009 showed a healthy diet enjoyed by 68% of the elderly men above 80 years old and 64% of the elderly women.

The case of Greek war veteran Stamis Moraitis went around the world after it was discovered the 102-year-old had returned Ikaria from the US after being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer when in his mid-60s.

After a few months on Ikaria, his health improved and he turned his garden into a vineyard producing 400 gallons of wine a year without going through chemotherapy or taking drugs of any kind.

As well as being a celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver established the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in 2002 to shape the health and well-being of current and future generations and contribute to a healthier world.

His Foundation has launched and managed three core food education programmes in schools, communities and with young people across the UK.

The main projects are the Kitchen Garden Project – empowering primary school teachers to integrate growing and cooking into the school day; the Ministry of Food programme – inspiring people to get in the kitchen and try out cooking; and the Fifteen Apprentice Programme to support disadvantaged young people to pursue a career in the food industry.