Despite its humble looks and origins, bread and oil sustained the Greek people for many years. The famine that killed thousands in Athens during WWII did not affect the Cretans in the same way. In the capital city of Athens, people had no access to bread and oil. They had money, but could not buy anything with it because there was no food available during the Nazi occupation. This was not exactly the case in Crete. I remember my father saying that bread and oil were always available in his village, since most people produced their own oil and as long as the Germans weren't taking their livestock, they could trade some chickens and eggs for flour. If they got hungry, it's because there wasn't enough food to go round because the families were large. In his case, his father had been killed on the first day of the Battle of Crete, and his mother had a hard time scraping up enough food for her five children.
Bread and oil can be dressed up with that most humble-looking red fruit, a basic food item for many Cretans: freshly grated tomato. Here's a slightly sharp-tasting sauce that combines tomato and olive oil with some herbs and spices, to make a great dip for thickly sliced sourdough bread.
1 large tomato, grated 1-2 cloves of garlic, according to taste olive oil salt oregano seasoning
Drain the grated tomato of its excess liquids. Add the salt to the grated tomato, and let stand in a fine sieve until more liquids drain away. Chop the garlic finely and add this with the oregano to the strained tomato in a small wide bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the tomato.
Use this dip with slices of fresh sourdough bread (optionally toasted), as a snack or a light meal, accompanied by some cheese. Heaven...