Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
The Greeks have been eating octopus since ancient times, but there’s an art to grilling these tentacled sea creatures. An octopus has to be dried in the sun for at least a day first. Otherwise, the flesh just steams and turns into “a rubbery mass.”
The Greeks– at least the old ones– know about starvation. To let anyone who comes under their roof go hungry is to shame an entire culture. It would break the laws of philoxenia (hospitality) or, worse– it would break the heart of their dear, sainted yia-yias.
Perhaps that last statement was a little melodramatic, but it’s the Greeks we’re talking about here. I mean, they invented drama. I can’t say I blame them for overdoing it on the food.
See these Greek coffee grounds? They just told me my future.
I am sitting here, wired and edgy from two cups of the stuff, trying to let my mind become open to what the residue left behind is trying to tell me.
And I am not entirely sure what to make of it.
Of course, there are a lot of people who might not know what I’m talking about, since I have encountered a hell of a lot of people who don’t even know what Greek coffee is, let alone what Greek coffee can tell a person.
Evvia — sister to Kokkari in San Francisco — is one of our favorite of the favorites down here. Evvia serves wonderfully classic Greek fare along with dishes they describe as “local interpretations of many traditional Hellenic favorites.” Because of a minor kitchen fire, Evvia had to close for a few weeks this fall and my husband and I were clutching our stomachs in fear that they would never reopen. Lucky for us and for Palo Alto, they did.
Skordalia. Skor-dahl-YA. Please say it with me, because it is a word one should know, use, and use often. It is from the Greek skordalia, in case you were wondering.
Made from potatoes, olive oil, garlic, and more garlic, skordalia is a puree that may be served as a dip for bread or, even better, as an accompaniment to fried fish or roasted beets.
I don’t care what you say, this is not hummus. It is called favosalata. If you insist on calling it hummus, I will persist in telling you that you are wrong, however politely.
Where I work, we are very good at pretending the customer is always right, even when he isn’t. I hear our guests make ordering blunders on a nightly basis, which isn’t surprising, considering the fact that our dinner menu is in Anglicized Greek. It’s downright confusing to the uninitiated. And, of course, un-Greek.
Where I work, there are a small handful of men who occasionally begin their sentences with the phrase “In my village…”
“In my village, we have a festival.” “In my village, we would never treat an octopus in such a way.”
These men can get away with saying such things as easily as they can get away with calling women “baby” because they are Greek. The have the accent, they have an old world charm about them that clings like the smell of clove and stale cigarette smoke.
And I have always been a little bit jealous. If I were to ever pepper my sentences with the words “In my village…” People would most likely assume it was Greenwich Village. And I can just forget about using the word “baby.” Ever.
This year, the East (Greek and Russian Orthodox) and the West (Roman Catholic and its breakaway Protestant faiths) have booked the same banquet room, as it were, for Easter. The last time this happened was 2004. It will happen again in 2010. That date sounds marvelously futuristic. 2010. As a child, I loved Easter– it […]