Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt

There are so many things about being in a new country that are just a little bit off kilter. They do a lot of the same things I am used to....sort of.


1) They drink coffee with milk. Sort of.

The other day I walked to Cafe Art, and almost froze on the way there. It is surprising how being near a body of water makes the temperature seem to be hovering around freezing, when in fact it is about...17 degrees Celsius.

Or, I just find the weather chilly in general, if it's below 25C.

By the time I arrived at the Cafe doors, and pushed aside the curtain of smoke that greeted me, all I could think was "WARMTH. NOW!" So, instead of my usual Frappe, I ordered a hot coffee with one sugar. They like to add the sugar for you - none of these dainty little packets on tables for the Greeks.

When he brought my coffee, the waiter asked if I wanted milk. I said yes, because even though milk not made of almonds makes me a tad ill, I have never been able to drink my coffee black. He plopped down one of those individual milk things - the ones with the peel back lids that little kids like to confiscate and make butter with (shake, shake, shake for about 19 hours straight.....Or maybe that was just my brother Greg....).

I poured the milk in, stirred, and was looking forward with immense pleasure, to warming my shivering insides up. But then...I took a sip and almost spewed the content of my mouth everywhere. The coffee had a weird cloying taste, and a sort of thick texture that stuck to the roof of my mouth and seemed to coat my tongue.

If I had been back home, I would have marched to the counter, and demanded (sweetly) that something be done.

When you don't speak the language though, there is not much to do in order to get your point across, short of dumping the coffee on the ground. That seemed a little extreme, and possibly a touch rude.

So, I took another sip, trying to figure out what was wrong with my innocent looking coffee.

After one more sip, I had it.

He hadn't given me normal milk, or even cream. He had given me a little container of sweetened condensed milk. I can't say I have ever really been a fan.

But, now I understand why there is half an aisle of various condensed milks at the super market, right next to the coffee section. I always thought it was weird before. I mean, what else do you do with sweetened condensed milk except make.....

Actually. I have no idea what one would do with such a thing.


2) They eat three meals a day. Sort of.

Another weird thing about the Greeks, or maybe just the ones in this area, is that they only really eat once a day.

Or, so they say.

They don't like to eat breakfast, and instead walk around eating rusks, and cookies, and the occasional pastry.

The main meal comes at about 1 or 2, and it is a full on dinner with wine and various good things. And then.....they spend the rest of the day snacking.

My art teacher said that her neighbor always gets after her for cooking too much - she says eating more than once a day is bad for you.

This ticks Gill off, because, as she says, they eat all day long. Constantly. Biscuits here, rusks there, cookies, pastries, frappes, ice cream ......and then they take a break from the nibbling to actually sit down and eat lunch. After which the grazing continues.

Gill's neighbor insists that she doesn't eat breakfast; instead she drinks a large glass of milk, and has two big rusks (the Greek version of toast, except you buy it, already toasted, from the bakery). I dunno, but that sounds like breakfast to me.

Later in the evening, one usually finds groups of people sitting around drinking, and having a snack of about 4 sticks of souvlaki - each. There might also be some potatoes on the side. Maybe a coleslaw salad. But, they will assure you, this is not an actual meal, of course, just a "snack"before retiring.

I dunno...that sounds awfully dinner like to me.

I am not sure what the Greeks have against admitting that they eat three meals a day - I mean, just from looking at them, you can tell that they do. But if they want to keep up the fiction of semi-anorexia, then it's fine by me.


3) They eat pork! There is no two ways about it. It can not be denied.

There is nothing wrong with liking pork, but I am definitely used to seeing it neatly packaged, cut into equally sized pieces.

They don't do it that way here.

I was walking across the street, when I was almost impaled by a big wooden stick. The stick was stuck through the body of a whole pig. The pig was nestled snuggly under a man's arm, and he was just ambling along, toting the pig, talking to his friend, not paying attention and on the verge of adding me on the stick next to the pig.

It was honestly one of the most shocking things. I froze in the middle of the street, oblivious for a moment to the mopeds and cars zipping by.

Gill one-upped me when I told her about it.

A few weeks ago, she was sitting outside the coffee shop, when a man drove by on his moped. Wedged behind him was a whole pig, hooves on his shoulders, on its way to be roasted in the Taverna.


And there you have it. Life is the same, yet different. Just a little tilted.

Like dark chocolate sprinkled with sea salt.

Your whole chocolate experience changes and shifts shape; suddenly your eyes pop open to new chocolate dimension that you didn't even know existed.

1 comment:

  1. This is making me hungry!!! Minus the pigs . . . that's just ew.