Kritikos Cold Cuts
Ioannis Kritikos ’ plant where his traditional meat products are made is located in the port of Tinos, next to the Tarsanas taverna. This is where his louza is prepared, the first Cycladic cured pork fillet with an official ‘passport’.
Louza, one of the most interesting of Greece’s cold cuts, takes a variety of forms in the northern Cyclades. It used to be produced at the end of a elaborate ritual, the annual slaying of the family pig in the late autumn. Every rural household had a pig in those days and on the day of the slaying, the animal would be turned into sausages, brawn and other delicacies that would feed the family for the year. Neighbours would come to help in a festive atmosphere and those with knowhow would turn the tender strips of meat on either side of the backbone into louzas.
The ‘recipe’ involved covering the meat with coarse salt for two or three days, and then soaking it in red wine for three or four days. After that the strips would be rolled in lots of local fennel seed, black pepper and allspice. Finally, they would be slipped into a casing made of the intestine and wrapped in towels to hold their cylindrical shape, smokes and then hung in an airy spot for two months to dry and mature.
Ioannis Kritikos comes from a long line of butchers who made louzas, salami and pork sausages, intially in small quantities for the family according to custom and later to serve the customers at their meatshop, known as Kambouris, in the Old Harbour.
In 2014 Ioannis opened a new plant to produce cured meats with ever more modern equipment, focusing on louza. Instead of the red sweet wine used as a marinade in the past, Ioannis chose a fine dry rose which gives it a smooth aroma.
“The finer you slice it, the better it is”, says Ioannis, who in addition to louza, makes a rich sausage with garlic and fennel, an exceptional garlicky salami – known as saltsisi – that has been aged for 15 days, and his newest product, smoked ham. In Athens you can find Kritikos cold cuts at good shops like Arapian, Ellinika Kaloudia, Pandaisia and Alexandris.