Going Greek

New Wife sent me this pic, suggesting that it might make a nice break from my usual laptop wallpaper fare of gloomy Paris streets and snowbound European countrysides:

It’s lovely, and it shows a part of the world — the Greek coast or Greek Islands — that I’ve never visited before (I know, I know).  One day, though… and she wants to go (back) very badly indeed (yeah, she’s been there, pout pout).

(cue Greek music)

What gets me is not so much the scenery as what the table evokes in me, which is:  Greek food.

I love it.  One of my favorite restaurants in the world used to be the Greek-Cypriot Kolossi Grill in London (now permanently closed because Covid, apparently grr grrr grrrr), because

Greek food + Greek wine + shouting Greek waiters + Greek atmosphere = Kim In Heaven

There’s not a single Greek dish I don’t enjoy (unless it’s crap like octopus etc. which I won’t eat in any language).  Spicy lamb, Greek salata and souvlakia… my mouth waters as I write the words.  On one of my trips Over There, I found a Greek gyro stand just off Shaftesbury Avenue and ate there four times in a single week.

And let’s hear it for retsina — or, as most non-Greeks cruelly call it, Lysol.  I can’t drink it unless I’m eating Greek food, but as an accompaniment thereof I won’t drink anything else.

Back when I lived in the Chicago area, I had the real pleasure of meeting up with one of my old South African friends, a Greek named (not George but) Paris, and his wife Debbie, who had all just emigrated from South Africa and taken a job in Chicago.  Of course, he wanted to know about things like Greek food stores and restaurants, so I pointed him at those and suggested we try out the nearest Greek restaurant from our houses (and not one of the ones in Greek Town Chicago).

Anyway, we walked in and Paris did the Greek greeting thing with the owner (thereby ensuring that we’d get the good Greek food and not the shit they pass off on non-Greeks — yeah, it happens).  When we sat down, Paris took away my menu and said, “Let me do the ordering” and I acquiesced with pleasure.  We ate Greek style, i.e with huge plates of food in the middle of the table, from which each diner helped themselves according to preference.  I of course had something from every damn plate, and Debbie  said, “Kim, are you sure you have no Greek blood in you?  Because there’s stuff here that I don’t even eat.”  I would have answered except my mouth was full.  And yes, there was retsina, gallons of the stuff;  and at the end of the evening, Paris wouldn’t let me pay for anything because, as he put it, “It’s such a pleasure to see a non-Greek enjoy Greek food as much as you do.”  I would have replied except I was lying on my back, groaning from Teh Gluttony.

Good times, good times.

Where was I?  Oh yes, the Greek thing.

As I said, Greece is the one place in Europe I haven’t been to — no reason, I just never got there for some reason — and I have to admit that I am a little intimidated by the language barrier.  I’m not that way anywhere else in Western Europe because of my French and German, and even in Italy and Portugal I can get by, at least to the point of understanding street signs and menus. But Greek…?  The different-looking alphabet means I’m clueless, and whereas I usually just grab a phrase book and learn a few things in the native lingo before I go somewhere, places that don’t use the Western alphabet are ummm more problematic.  (One of my Greek buddies wickedly suggested that my German would get me around quite well in Athens or the Islands, but I wasn’t born yesterday.)

Not that it matters much.  If I somehow got the opportunity to go to Hellas, I’d be there in a shot.  I can deal with the language problem when I get there.

After all:  how bad could things get?


  1. Now you’ve done it, Kim! I went to Greece 40 years ago, doing the culture thing. Now I want to go back! The different alphabet isn’t so bad; you’ll quickly learn to transliterate, which is sufficient for names of people and places. Translation’s another matter, of course.

  2. Lovely little corner table right on the water, but it has a problem.
    If I am going to sit there it will only have 2 places, not the 4 that’s shown. That will then create space for all the dishes you showed.

  3. Language barrier… my recollection of Nea Makri and Kato Souli is that in the summer you’ll have no problem with Danish or Dutch.

  4. Greek food is delicious!! If you’re ever in New England again, try Mykonos in Newington CT, Amphora in Londonderry, NH or Nostimo Greek in Portsmouth, NH.

    Lamb or chicken souvlaki is my weakness. I could eat that several times a week and it’s hard to beat a good Greek salad.


  5. Being Greek, I grew up with Retsina. I thought it tasted more like Pine-Sol. I still enjoy a glass or 3 when I go to the local Greek festival. My dad loved it, to me, it’s an acquired taste. I hated it when I was in my 20s, now …

  6. Some years ago I knew a Greek couple who operated a restaurant in south Kansas City. The food was great and a lot of the entertainment was the interaction between those two.

  7. I’ve had some of those, and you’re right, they’re wonderful. About 4 years ago, my wife and I traveled to Athens, then on to Crete. Of the two, Crete was the far better experience. The people of Athens were wonderful. Friendly, helpful and charming. The city itself – dirty, with garbage piled against storefronts and anything that didn’t move quickly enough was tagged with spraypaint. Even trees in the Athens National Garden. The people of Crete were just as nice as those of Athens, but the cities were cleaner and the atmosphere much more relaxing. Restaurants in the cities were good, but the real gems are the restaurants and cafes in the smaller villages further inland. Be sure to have a glass of raki after dining. It’s similar to grappa and distilled locally. I wish I could find some here stateside, if only as a reminder of my trip.

  8. And your wonderful tour of Greek main dishes and Salads hasn’t even touched the wonderful Greek desserts. Glaktaboureko, Greek Custard pie, three variations on Baklava, Kourambethes, the almond cookie with powdered sugar, Kataiefe, nut and honey phyllo rolls that look like shredded wheat.
    There are others, too, but I have to find my cheat sheet I made so I’d know what I was eating.

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