Monday, July 5, 2010

More Things I Like About Greece

Other things (in addition to the islands) I like about Greece:

1. Food - I know we Americans think we have the best food, but Greece has us beat. I’m not even kidding! Now, I’m not talking about fancy, complicated dishes. Greece has just good, simple food but of the highest quality. I think this is because they haven’t succumbed to factory farming practices the way we have. The fruit and vegetable are the best I’ve ever tasted. They are grown locally and are picked when they are ripe.  Things like peaches and melons are just to die for.  Even broccoli tastes amazing over here!

The best lamb I have ever had has been in Greece. Alex says this is because the animals spend their whole lives eating fresh herbs that grow naturally on the hillsides. (Things like rosemary, oregano, and thyme.) The herbs are thoroughly incorporated into every part of the animal. Who knows if this is the reason, but I can tell you: there is nothing like Greek lamb chops!

Yogurt and honey - both are the thickest ever, and are totally delicious. The honey has the consistency of caramel. I’ve never found any like it outside of Greece. Also, they have different kinds. Today, we bought pine and chestnut honey. I can’t wait to try it!

Greek sweets - Did you know that there are LOTS of different kinds of baklava? Also, other baklava-esce desserts? Sweets are a big part of Greek culture. If you are invited to someone’s house for a meal, don’t bring flowers. Bring sweets! The sweet shops are even open on Sundays (nothing else is) so that people can get a beautifully wrapped box of sweets to bring to Sunday lunch. My favorites include the following:
  • baklava (the REAL thing. Not what they call “baklava” in Greek restaurants in America.)
  • kaitifi (made with “string” pastry instead of filo. It looks kind of like shredded wheat.)
  • ekmek (a Turkish dessert which is kind of like kaitifi with thick, whipped cream on top)
  • Chocolate “pasta”, which is a kind of cake which is layered with cream, then coated with a layer of chocolate. Alex’s favorite!
  • ice-creams - We all know that the Italians have a the best gelato, but I think some of that know-how must’ve gotten into Greek culture because they have amazing ice-creams over here. 
  •  I tried a new dessert this time. I don’t know what the Greek name is but the translation is “honey balls”. They are like donuts, soaked in honey, and topped with chopped nuts and cinnamon. Fantastic!
Frappes - Since it’s usually hot outside, the Greeks have a tradition of drinking cold coffee. They take really finely-ground instant coffee (like a really fine powder) and whip it up with water, sugar, and condensed milk. It makes a wonderfully frothy coffee drink. I think they were doing this long before frappucinos were invented.

2. Tavernas - I also love that you are more connected with the outside when in Greece. When you eat at a Taverna, you sit outside, usually under trees or a trellis. On our last night in Spetses, our table was on the beach, inches away from the water. Awesome! Also, it’s nice that everything you order automatically comes with a glass of ice-cold water. (Even if you order a glass of water, it will come with a glass of water!)

3. Siesta - Everyone takes a siesta from around 2 or so until around 5 or 6 in the evening. The shops close around then and reopen. The cool thing is that everything stays open until after midnight then. I love going to a Taverna at 11 at night and all the children are running around, playing while the adults chat and have a meal and/or a drink. It’s a really nice atmosphere.

4. Open-air cinemas - There are cinemas, which are usually on a roof-top, where you sit outside and watch a movie (on the side of a building or a screen) while the sun goes down. I love it!

5. The amazing turquoise water - When I first saw the ocean in Greece, I thought they must’ve poured turquoise dye into the water. It’s an amazing color! I’ve never been able to capture the color on camera. You just HAVE to come to Greece and see for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Greek desserts are amazing. I had my first crash course while in Greek Town in Toronto. I got a dessert sampler with 3 different kinds of Greek pastries. All of them were to-die-for, but the melomakarona... lemme tell you, it made me weak in the knees at first bite. Not kidding. You bite into one and it has the perfect texture and sweetness and butteriness. Nutty, cinnamon-y, oh god. It feels like sex in your mouth. So then you start chewing and this luscious, sweet, syrupy juice starts to ooze out in just the right amounts (not too much, not too little) and mingle with the buttery richness of the baked dough. It's hands-down the best dessert I've ever had in my life. By the way, the "honey balls" you had are called "loukoumades." They're similar to melomakarona in that the honey oozes out of them when you take a bite. These desserts have "sinful" written all over them :)