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?

Relative Pricing

As Loyal Readers all know, New Wife is currently back in the Former Racist Republic to dote over the latest grandson.  While there, of course, she has been shopping up a storm — which I don’t mind because of the exchange rate (R1.00 ZAR = US$0.05).

And as long as she spends it on food, I don’t care.  Here, for example is what she’d pay for pigs-in-a-blanket at the supermarket:

For the mathematically-challenged, that works out to thirty of those freshly-baked puppies for US$5.

When people talk about the evils of inflation, let me remind everyone that when I left the Racist Republic in 1986, the exchange rate was about 50 cents (SA) to the dollar (US).  That’s what an annual “official” inflation rate of ~15% will do to your currency over thirty-odd years.

Anyway, after getting several pics of that nature, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll head over to Dunkin Donuts.  That’ll show her.

Scaling Down

This past Thanksgiving saw a change for us.  Instead of doing the massive overindulgence of a Thanksgiving dinner, we opted instead for a simple snack tray.

Of course, the kids didn’t starve to death, oh no.  Son&Heir went to his mother’s family (guest count:  “over 20 FFS!”) and Daughter went to her newly-acquired in-laws (guest count:  “about 10 or so”) so they arrived at our place early last Thursday evening groaning with gluttony.

So for New Wife and I to have gone Full Thanksgiving with a turkey and the whole catastrophe could have been classified as child abuse. Well okay, the “children” are all in their mid-30s so maybe not, but you get my drift.

The chances are that the kids would barely have touched our meal anyway — and with the cost of food nowadays…

Then just yesterday I saw this little snippet:

Nearly six in ten Brits would rather have a takeaway than a traditional Christmas dinner, according to a survey.

A staggering 59 per cent of the nation say they would prefer to order a takeaway than cook up a roast dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Day.

…and I can see where they’re coming from, just based on my own experience.

Of course, I plan on doing a proper Christmas feast for our lot:

… but as usual, this will take place on Boxing Day rather than on Christmas Day proper, so the kids can do Christmas with the other family branches just as they did on Thanksgiving.

The reason I’m hosting Boxing Day dinner at all is partly tradition — we’ve always celebrated Christmas that way — and partly because I can eat roast beef leftovers for days afterwards.  (I can’t do that with Thanksgiving turkey because it can cause a gout flare-up.  Beef, however, is a safe bet.)

The only slight bummer is that I’ll be on my own over Christmas, as New Wife is off to Seffrica for most of December and early January to bless the New Grandson — cost thereof will be most generously met by her #2 Son — so I’ll be doing the dinner myself.  (No big deal:  I’m debating whether to do roast beef or leg of lamb — the kids are agnostic on the subject, they love both.)

Hell, I might just get the butcher to slice the raw beef/lamb really thinly (a.k.a. “shabu shabu”), and do a “table roast” on a hot steel plate, Mediterranean style, with Greek salad, hot pita bread and hummus, and dessert of baklava or cheesecake.  They love that idea as well.

Tradition?  I don’ need no steenkin’ tradition.  But I draw the line at takeout, tempted as I am by the thought of a no-hassle huge dish of fish ‘n chips supplied by the tavern across the road.

I need to get something to eat, now.  Excuse me.

Mouth Watering Over Here

Tom Parker-Bowles finds the best chippie in Britishland, and it makes me want to go there.

Except Scottishland at this time of year is… well, as put by Combat Controller, who with Doc Russia has just returned from the annual roe deer cull in the Cairngorms:  “Cold, miserable, windy and wet.”

Okay, but I’d still like to get to the Sea Salt & Sole at some point.  A good fish ‘n chips meal is becoming alarmingly hard to find Over There, at any price.  The low price is a bonus.

Root Cause

I really need to visit Britishland again, not just for personal reasons but to do my bit to reverse an alarming trend.

This is the most depressing article I’ve read all week, and it may explain a whole lot about the nation that Britishland has become:

Brits are eating less meat, potatoes and bread than ever before, according to data tracking the nation’s food purchases over the last six decades.

Red meat consumption has plunged by up to 81 per cent since the 70s amid health fears, the steady rise of veganism and growing concerns about climate change.

Then again, perhaps it’s the slow brain death caused by a low-meat / vegan diet that has allowed a nation of skeptics to become a nation of fearful wussies:  where the .Britgov can pass a law that makes ownership of cars illegal by a certain date without said .Britgov being sent en masse to the gallows, and where Brits can not only get arrested for posting mean tweets, but allow themselves to be arrested therefor.

But all this has just made me want to add a little something to my morning breakfast (and it’s not a second gin, shuddup):

Excuse me…