Saturday, 13 April 2013

food - some who have and some who haven't

Signs of the times.........

Danae's brother-in-law visiting from Athens told us a story he saw unfold the other day.  He goes to work on a motorbike and had stopped at the traffic lights.  Opposite was a shop selling coffee, cheese pies and the like.  He saw a woman come out with a bag slung over her arm and noticed a guy on the corner eyeing her bag.  He thought 'he's going to run and grab the bag'.  The man did run but snatched the cheese pie she was holding right out of her hand.  Must have been starving. 

The same brother-in-law, who is always full of stories, told us about his next door neighbour.  An elderly gentleman, always polite and well dressed.  He hadn't been seen for a few days and they got the guy in charge of the building to open up his door.  They found him inside in a very bad condition.  He was taken to hospital where he was found to be extremely ill due to malnutrition.

March 4 -

K had one of his last winter 'get-togethers' in front of the fire.  All 'good' home-grown stuff, even the wine.  Vaso, our intrepid elderly neighbour, gave him one of her roosters, thankfully plucked and gutted.  No way SHE would suffer from malnutrition.  She grows all her own vegetables (including broad beans), makes wine from her own grapes (and drinks lots of it), has goats to give her milk, cheese and meat and chooks for eggs and meat , plus a few turkeys.  She toils from sun-up to sun-down to fill up her freezer and her coffers.  She has a few dozen olive trees and works harder than the roumanian labourer when it comes to picking and pruning.

  Vaso is one of a disappearing generation.  She's a tough nut.  Works very hard, drinks hard, smokes like a chimney and watches over every penny.  And she is very clued in.  Watches the news every night and handles her money shrewdly.   

She thinks nothing about slitting the throats of a chook or turkey and has probably slaughtered and skinned many a goat or sheep.    She lives alone up here and has done for many years.  We are her nearest neighbours and get on well with her.   K will often bring her supplies from the town or fix her TV when it goes wonky.  

She always entertains us with stories from the past.  Her childhood was harsh and she worked long days from a very young age herding goats and working in the fields, those of the family and the neighbours if they were paying.  Her memory is sharp and the tales she tells of life on a small holding and how they survived are tales of a generation just after the war, just able to live on what they produced or made for themselves.  Some days all they ate were a few walnuts, mandarins or even the juice and flesh of their lemons.  The milk from their goats and the egss from their chooks were sold to buy essentials for the large family.   

Her working mode is so different from her Sunday-going-to-church look. Vaso 'cleans up'  nicely and looks extremely  chic at weddings and funerals.

  Her son is in the navy, like K was, and is a good friend of ours.  He was  Quartermaster at the Navy base here before he was transferred to Athens.  She also has two daughters, one is a high school teacher and the other the chief of police on the island of Lefkada.  Vaso was determined they should all get educated and have good jobs. 

This was supposed to be about food .... again.  How did I get onto Vaso?

 -So main item on K's menu was the rooster.  Free range.

- That was stewed with tomatoes - from Crete and served with thick macaroni (tubes with holes down the middle to hold all the sauce).  The macaroni wasn't homemade this time but Elli has a macaroni cutter and we do make our own now and again.

- the cheese that we grated on top was some unsalted goats cheese made by Kyriako's maiden aunts

- it was accompanied by greens (weeds) that K had collected from a field nearby.  Not the field where we pump out our sewage tank.  I boiled the greens and they were served with lemon juice from our lemon trees and olive oil from neighbouring trees

-  the bread was sourdough, made by me.  Heavy village stuff great for mopping up the heavy oily tomatoey sauce.  Great for indigestion too.

- I also made an omelette with wild asparagus gathered by one of K's friends - made with 8 of his hen's eggs that he brought as well.  It made a bright yellow and green asparagus omelette

- our wine is finished so we were drinking wine K bought from another little old lady, similar to Vasso, who makes her own wine and sells it at 1 euro a litre.  Her wine is apparently the best in the area at the moment.....and those guys should know!

The day turned into night and it was after many many hours that K's friends finally wobbled off on their motorbikes.

Not everyone is starving.  We are lucky that we live out in the country side.

You might think that the crisis is not affecting us either.  This sort of 'feast' is a rare occurence now and you'll note that just about everything was homegrown and given to us by others.  K has a very social personality, and is a handyman.  As I have written before he often gets paid in 'goods' and the greeks have the custom that anyone coming to your house, especially to eat  will bring a 'gift'. What is appreciated most is something home-made/grown.  They  prefer a plastic water bottle full of your own wine to a bottle of sauv blanc bought from the wine shop. (alas)

the area where we live - on a clear night we can see the 
lights of Athens

outside Villa Linda - Steven Creasy
he and Teresa took these two photos
the bougainvillia isn't in flower yet but the branches
are 'reaching for the power lines'

K frying over the fire with his long handled pan

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