Gathered around a table, we watch three varieties of herbs dance inside a transparent glass teapot, listening to a story about the harvesting of Pink rock-rose (Cistus creticus) in the Cretan mountains. This marks the beginning of the experience “How far would you go for real food?”, a showcase of unique agro-food products like high-polyphenol olive oil, cheese, therapeutic herbs, and carob. It’s a multisensory journey, where delicious tastes play supporting roles to the main narrative spun by food and travel writer and host, Isabella Zambetaki. The story explores the pursuit of “real” food within mountain ranges, olive groves, and shepherds’ huts.
The narrative is brought to life with painstaking details – from the woven herb pouches created on Zaros looms to the handmade ceramic plates from the Margarites village in Rethymno. What truly distinguishes this experience, however, is the communal atmosphere around the table. It’s an authentic display of Greek hospitality that exudes warmth and camaraderie. Moreover, it encourages reflections on the uniqueness of food, and reacquaints us with the enchanting simplicity of our everyday meals.
The immersive experience “How far would you go for real food?” can be accessed at select hotels in Attica. The same theme is also conveyed through speeches at conferences focusing on gastronomy, sustainability, and wellness. Last June, the experience was shared at the five-day Chef Culinary Conference in Massachusetts, attended by over 500 American chefs, dieticians, and journalists. Other presentations took place at the Maliotis Cultural Center in Boston for academics and Greek-Americans, and at a restaurant in New York for journalists.
According to Isabella Zambetaki, “After 23 years in gastronomy and travel journalism, I felt the urge to craft an experience that not only allows travelers to savor delectable flavors but also immerses them in the surrounding culture. Drawing from my extensive reports, I wove a narrative that is both informative and emotionally resonant. I believe in the power of storytelling to harness global trends like sustainability and plant-forward meals, and to connect with a discerning audience. That’s precisely why I founded ‘Herbs in her pockets.’”
“Herbs in her pockets” also introduces us to an inventive product, the “A Fragrant Story” soap. This collaboration with Helleo, a handmade soap producer using extra virgin olive oil, the Lyrarakis Winery, and potter Giorgis Dalamvelas, has resulted in a soap infused with Kotsifali, a native red wine grape from Crete, dictamnus, and Cretan red clay. It comes along with a podcast detailing the narratives of the three producers who have joined forces to create it.
For the podcast and brief narratives on unique Greek products, check out the website herbsinherpockets.com.