Being in Greece and experiencing the every day life of the Greek people has been a wonderful experience. And being able to live amongst them is an even better experience. Being a Food Lover there is one thing that I truly enjoy and that is going to various markets, bakeries, fishmongers and grocery stores to experience all the varieties of foods. But what was at first a bit of a challenge because of the language barrier has become a real escapade.
It has become rather difficult to find some standard ingredients in Greece that I’m accustomed to in the states. That is only a minor problem, trying to determine simple things like 1% milk to whole milk, or vegetable oil vs. grape seed oil, these are things that drive me crazy. One day I spent every bit of 20-minutes to buy what I was praying would be butter. I guess I didn’t should have stayed longer to figure it out.
But the local places that I frequent such as the butcher, fruit stand, café and fishmonger have made me truly appreciate our cultural
differences. Yannis the fishmonger has become my seafood savior. While I am trying to get my fish of choice, Yannis is more concerned to perfect his English. It’s truly an enjoyment going there and trying to get fish. I will ask Yannis a question about a type of fish and I get a 20-minute dictation about the species. While that may sound like a complaint it is entirely the opposite. I have come to enjoy going for fish not just for the grand assortment but because Yannis makes it an occasion. Today I wanted to know about the octopus and he gave me the area, how they hunt them, the tools they use and when I kept pointing to the one I want, he says, how’s my English today. I love people and I love going for fish just because of Yannis.
The butcher who is located only three or four blocks away was not so pleasant when I first arrived here. I’m sure the local people like their small community and my perception was that outsiders were not so welcomed. But after my 2nd visit and all my grace about his meats I had purchased from him, he let his wall down and ever since has been more than gracious. I went there just yesterday to get some hamburger. They were trying to convince me to add pork into it and I have to assume for the added fat because the meat they used to grind up for hamburger appeared to be rather lean. I stuck to my guns however and I am glad I did, it was probably equivalent to the 85-15 ground beef in the states, which is what I favor. He asked me about my Easter and I didn’t want to sound arrogant about the private estate in which my lamb came from so instead I quickly turned the conversation around and asked about his Easter. I have been to more meat markets and butchers than I can even begin to recollect, hands down this is the cleanest I’ve been in so far.
There is a little café that is rather quaint and that I am only a quick 2-block stroll away. I had been here my last trip to Athens in December and I admired the place probably because they all spoke English even if a little limited. And I guess deep down inside I am very proud to be an American and they call me “The American Boy” every time I enter the establishment so it always makes me smile, not to mention they discovered I tend to be good tipper so why not flatter me.
But there is one particular place that I truly enjoy to go more than any place else and that is the local street market that has vender after vender peddling their specialties. From fresh produce to fruit, dried beans, enormous selections of olives, even kitchen utensils. I’m enamored not only
by the fresh and wonderful selection but watching the people hand select their fare. Most of the people walk and so many have there own cart to transport their prize. This street market is only open on Mondays and the locals gather a large majority of their weekly culinary needs because it’s fresh and because it is significantly less than the supermarket. I missed it this past week due to the Easter holiday but you can bet I’ll be attending this Monday’s harvest. Experiencing the Every Day Life of Greece and it’s people has been truly wonderful.