Eating and Drinking in Greece


In 2018 Dewey and I traveled to Greece. No matter where we went, we'd always stumble upon a restaurant with outdoor seating. We would always order a grilled fish finished with what my family calls Greek Gold. It's a mix of good olive oil and lemon juice, often with dried oregano stirred in. The fish was usually accompanied by the best fried potatoes. Really! The best ever--anywhere! We'd split a Horiatiki Salata--what is commonly referred to as the iconic Greek Village Salad--or seasonal greens dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice. That's it. Never boring, always good and undeniably delicious.

Sharing a bottle of beer with our lunch in Piraeus
Greeks love eating outdoors. Actually, they love the outdoors for just about everything. A family dinner under a grapevine-shaded courtyard. An evening stroll with friends on busy city streets or the town square. A hike in the woods. A late-night coffee or wine at a small restaurant's outside seating. There are restaurants lining most of the popular Plaka area streets of Athens, and the first request for seating is always outside. You get fresh air, good energy from people passing by, you see life swirling around you, you have a beautiful water view in the port towns and you have entertainment in the hustle-bustle rapid-fire movements of waiters bringing food out and taking plates back into the kitchen. And, for some reason, food almost always seems to taste best when served outdoors under a cafe umbrella.

A harborfront restaurant in Agia Effimia on Kefalonia

Besides fish and salad and greens, you might order a small decanter of wine, a dip like tzatziki, a few keftethes and some fried calamari. Then you can walk it all off by strolling around town and people-watching.

You might find yourself taking an afternoon walk and in need of a refreshing coffee Frappe, or late at night a glass of wine or small Greek coffee might suit you. The coffee tradition is big in Greece and used to mean what you may know as Greek Coffee. It's served hot in an espresso-sized cup. The ritual of mid-morning or afternoon coffee requires patience, company, good conversation and taking small sips of coffee in between. In more recent years, the Frappe, invented out of necessity by a Nescafe salesman in Thessaloniki, has surpassed the traditional coffee in the summer. Now we also have a Freddo made with espresso or as a cappuccino.
Strolling in Athens eventually means a stop for a refreshing treat.

Encore! This year, the year following the Covid-19 lockdowns, we are vaccinated and masked and in Greece again. By the time you read this, we will be back home enjoying the afterglow of a fabulous adventure. I can tell you (as I write this before we leave for Greece) that we ate more fish and greens and salads. We saw more of the Peleponnese area (where my sister and I were born and lived until ages six and eight) with our generous and entertaining guide, my cousin Christo who lives in Chicago but decided to spend a month in Greece this year. He is actually a cousin by marriage to my beautiful cousin, Athanasia, who couldn't join us. Christo took us to visit places from my childhood memories and introduced us to favorite spots that have fed his love of Greece. I can also tell you with confidence that we partied with my sister's family in Kefalonia. We also met with my mother's cousins, Stavroula and Zoe, who let us cook with them and who told us the stories about our parents that we had forgotten. They filled in the missing pieces of the story that was my parents' life. Great stuff for my book.


Popular Posts