I haven't been 'home' (where is home now) for ten years. When we have visitors from New Zealand I have a short list of 'necessities' to bring with them. Kiwis abroad will understand completely. Others may be a little puzzled. We have learnt to make own meat pies, anzac biscuits, pavlovas, fish'n chips and even ginger nuts. No way we can make the iconic hoky-poky ice-cream. But what they can, and do, lug around in their suitcases are jars of marmite (or vegemite), pineapple lumps (the chewest most gorgeous chocolate covered pineapple sweet you can imagine), mallowpuffs (marshmallow and chocolate with a biscuit base), a copy of the latest NZ Woman's weekly and all sorts of Maori and All Black trinkets. The Greek children and grandchildren love all those souvenirs more than I do.
It goes without saying that I will be just as pleased with a big bottle of gin, some toblerone and duty free Baileys.
This summer's bounty
An introduction to Greek hospitality. A large loaf of homemade sourdough bread, a huge tray of stuffed tomatoes and peppers, greek salad, feta cheese and very cold local wine and beer.
Greek hospitality around here means you never dare to have an empty plate or a half filled glass in front of you. The plate will be filled with all the food you have been seen to enjoy most, the choicest pieces will be passed to you with cries of 'faei, paidi mou, faei' (eat, my child, eat). No guest must leave hungry. That phrase 'a groaning table' must be greek in origin.
The very happy hosts
No Amstel and Heineken. When in Greece everyone drinks Greek beer.
A visiting yacht flying three NZ flags (you can see two in this photo). The Silver Fern on a black background is immediately recognised as the NZ emblem. The old flag with the Union Jack and four stars of the southern cross is too much like the Australian flag which is exactly the same except it has five stars. Who remembers?
Cafe culture. At the 'green chairs'. Katy and Sam.
A leisurely afternoon drink and some kalamari at Olga's taverna right by the water at the end of Askeli Bay. Nikos and Niki.
Morning coffee and some sort of hot pastry in the town, maybe a walk around, a short swim and it is time for lunch. Then siesta for some, more swimming for others and then there is some serious eating to be done. Relax. You must try everything. And this is only the summer menu. Ask those in the family who have come in the winter. There are giant beans and pork casseroles, lamb with a head of garlic, salted cod, great oven trays of potatoes cooked in the wood fire oven. And this is a time of severe austerity!
Greeks and NZers. The first night at Neorion, another typical taverna by the sea. So much to catch up on. So many new members of the family to meet. So much new food to taste and so much local wine and beer to be quaffed!
At home in the hills above Poros. A long table for a big family. Roast pig on the spit and kokoretsi (offal wrapped in intenstines on the spit). Believe me, a good time was had by all.
Yet another memorable meal under the jasmine. This is definitely a 'before pic'. An empty table. Rainy and K prepare for the onslaught.
Seafood on the roof as the sun goes down over the mountain range called the 'Sleeping Lady'
A view of the neighbourhood. White and blue houses built right up against each other with small lanes and steps for access.
Off on a cruise around the harbour in the water taxi 'Socrates' with the most genial captain on the island (actually, my son-in-law lol)
A NZ soldier gets a short back and sides from his Greek cousin. Danae and Nikos.
What the kids liked best. Water sports. A bumpy ride on the 'banana' with screams of joy and an inevitable dunking at the end.
Sam gets a lesson from the master. K shows him how to prepare the kokoretsi. Here he is pushing chunks of liver, heart, kidney and other offal onto the spit.
The Maestro and his trainee admiring their creation. Pig and kokoretsi turning into a succulent meze.
The aftermath! No-one had room for the ears. They had to be eaten the next day.
A sad time for us all. The 'children' leaving the island. BUT, they shall return.
And a small taste of NZ for those who have not visited.
One of the long sandy beaches that go for miles along the coast in the Bay of Plenty. Great waves for surfing. Great for surf casting. Pipis and tua-tuas just waiting to be dug out by the toes at low tide. Driftwood, carpets of seashells. Oystercatchers, black backed gulls and kittiwakes. A walk along the beach is full of small pleasures
Kyriakos meets the maoris. On the tourist marae at Rotorua where the earth literally boils. Geysers, a strong sulphur smell and boiling mud pools are just some of the attractions.
And the fishing! These are fish from the Pacific ocean. A couple of goodish size snapper. Enough to fill up even a small family of greeks lol