Monday, May 29, 2006

Boba Feta

The Food of Greece

There is more to Greek cuisine than just gyros and feta. That said, I could have easily stopped at just the two and been content. Everything else was gravy. The sons of Zeus really know how to nosh down.

Word on the street is that actual Greeks break their fast with the nutritious combo of coffee and cigarettes. Americans touristing in Greece started their day (if they manage to get out of bed before lunch) with bread and jam, spinach and cheese pastries, or yogurt and honey. All of these were too my taste, but I had a strong preference for the pastries. They went down an oily treat in combo with a cup of tea or a beer. Greek lunch came sometime after one. Its tardy arrival pushed back dinner to the fashionable hour of nine. There was no clear distinction between the content of the midday and evening meals, although the former seemed to feature more beer and the latter more wine. It was normal to enjoy one of a variety of crunchy salads to start. They were so generously supplied that I was almost never done with the first course before the second was upon us. Common main plates were roasted meat with starchy sides, gussied-up pastas, or seafood stews. Dessert was uncommon is restaurants, but not unheard of.

A few things of particular note:
  • Cheese - We must have had a bit of cheese at every meal. If not topping off a salad, it arrived fried (saganaki) or lurking about the mains.
  • Greek Salad - Jason has an oft stated devotion to this particular combo of cucumber, tomato, olives, and feta ubiquitously available throughout Hellas. Leaves ("filler", as he says) really just get in the way or a good salad.
  • Gyro - This snack delicacy is close to replacing the burrito as my ideal post-pub food. Although superficially similar to a Turkish kebap, it has a style and flavor all its own. A gyro is chicken or lamb cut from a rotating stack, dosed in some kind of yogurt sauce, and served in a butter-fried piece of flatbread along with some salad. After you have had one, it is difficult not to go back for another.
  • Seafood - Greek cuisine makes the most of the Aegean. Every slimy creature from the blue deep that found its way on to my plate was happily passed along into my stomach. The shellfish were of particularly high quality and the sardines, although clumsy to eat, were always well received.
  • Bread - It is always there and often hits the table before the menu. Baguette-like loafs were far more common than pita.
  • Wine - House wines were generally very nice. They were ordered by the litre rather than by the bottle and served in a pitcher poured from a barrel.
  • Ouzo - There were mixed opinions regarding the national booze of Greece. I liked it. Jason and Lauren were nonplussed at best. Ouzo is an anise-flavored liquor drank iced and mixed with water. The addition of a bit of agua turns it from clear to milky white. It is enjoyed as an aperitif or in concert with an array of small dishes.
  • Coffee - I am not sure if there is a bean shortage or what, but coffee was very expensive. That did not stop folks from crowding into the cafes, though. Most folks seemed to prefer frape - coffee blended with milk and served over ice - to espresso or filter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/30/2006 12:06 PM gmt

Blogger jason said...

Sorry, Karen. I had to delete your comment to keep that phone number from being broadcast around the world.

5/31/2006 12:39 PM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a problem. Just as long as you received it. :)

6/01/2006 6:10 PM gmt


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