Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Greek Goodbye...

So you have spent the whole day with your family, eating, drinking, dancing etc... You have been having in depth philosophical discussions about life, and had a good old gossip about your sister's neighbour's daughter's new job. You may even have gotten into a heated debate about personal family issues which resulted in lots of shouting and hand gesturing for hours on end! 

Finally, someone announces that the kids have got to get up early for school the next day, so they really should get going. They might call their kids down from playing upstairs and the kids shout, "just a bit longer papa!!". 
Eh, another 20 minutes won't hurt, so you carry on chatting away.

An hour later, you call the kids down again. You're not too bothered that they are still playing away as you carry on with your conversation.

Another half an hour later, you stomp up the stairs and manage to drag the kids down and get them ready to leave. Your hosts stand up and start to greet you out the door. You go around and kiss everyone in the house on each cheek saying your goodbyes. 

The front door opens and you stand in the doorway, only the conversation hasn't quite ended yet...

Another half an hour later you are still there all chatting away. Eventually, someone gets a little frustrated and walks towards the car. Everyone hugs and kisses cheeks again before you get the family in the car. You scroll down the window to say goodbye again and have another 20 minute conversation...

Yes the reasons Greeks end up staying at your house until the small hours is because the goodbye alone can take up half the evening...!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ways to offend a Greek...

There are some sure fire ways to really offend a Greek person, and I'm not just talking about general things that everyone gets offended with, like someone stealing your parking space or someone telling you that you look fat... I'm talking about things that you wouldn't even think would be that bad, but to a Greek, it's a different story.

So a common one which many people fall into - is either not finishing your meal or not taking seconds.

That's right. If someone cooked for you (this could be a stranger at a restaurant or it could be your own family) and you to dare refuse to eat their food until it is all gone, then as far as they are concerned, you hated what they made for you, and that is really offensive. No matter how much you express how delicious it was, if there is any food left on your plate, they will quiz you on why you are refusing to eat their food, why you don't want seconds, what was wrong with it etc. Want some advice? Just keep eating... keep eating until there is nothing left.

Another offensive thing is to blatantly mispronounce a Greek's surname. 
Sure, some of our names can be hard to pronounce for a xeni, we get that. But when someone really takes the mick and makes a comment like "oh that Greek person, you know Chris Papadopolopodopolapolopogous.. or whatever their name is..." then it's a sure fire way to really offend a Greek. As crazy as our names are, we are strangely proud of them, so you no take-a the piss-a, ok?

Finally (for now) imagine this. You are sitting with a big loud Greek family all getting ready for a massive feast. You nab some potatoes, you grab some nice salad, you put a dollop of hummus on the plate and snatch up some pitta bread. The host then comes at you with a glorious, juicy, freshly barbecued bowl of meat...

...they smile at you pushing the dish in your face saying "fae fae" waiting for you to choose your favourite piece from the bowl that they have spent all day preparing for you... best way to annoy a Greek at this point? 

Tell them you're a vegetarian.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Greek Vegetarian Dishes

Yes, you read right. Vegetarian! I know that is seemed a taboo word in the Greek culture, but there is one time a year when Greeks do actually go vegetarian, and that is around the holy time of Easter. 

This is the time when many Greeks stay away from meat and dairy, and we are 20 days in so far! If you are fasting then well done! If anyone needs some inspiration for some good vegetarian Greek dishes, then I have got some good examples below to help inspire you, you can just Google the titles to find recipes of them if you need to.

Gigantes Plaki: (Giant bean casserole. You see, the English stole the word "gigantic" from us...)
Fasolakia(Fresh green beans with tomato)

Yemista: (Stuffed tomatoes with rice)
Fakes: (Lentil soup)
Louvi: (Black eyed beans)

If you can think of any other good ones, please leave them below and let us know how you are getting on with your fast!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Greek Independence Day

Happy Greek Independence day everyone!

I hope you have all had a great day! If you're not sure what Greek Independence Day is all about, I am going to whiz you through it now for you so you're all clued up!

So basically over 500 years ago Greece used to be ruled by the Turks, but despite them ruling over Greece for 400 years, the Greek identity stayed strong. On 25th March 1821 they decided to rise up against the Turks and fight for their independence.

This war went on for years, and the Greeks managed to get back a small part of Greece, although tens of thousands of people lost their lives. This was going on during the French Revolution so many other countries in Europe and America cottoned on to what was going on and decided to help out the Greeks.

11 years later, all of central Greece had been claimed back by the Greeks, and over the next 100 years or so, after more wars and agreements eventually all of Greece and the islands were under Greek rule.

The other reason as to why this day is so important, is because it is a Holy day. On this day, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to give birth to the Son of God.

So that's the basic run down of it. If you're interested, I have included a video of Barak Obama, the Greek President and Archbishop at the Whitehouse which celebrates this special day

So what did you do today to celebrate Greek Independence Day?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A more serious topic...

This is just a quick post to encourage everyone to show their support for the devastating events going on in Japan right now. To have to suffer through an earthquake, tsunami and radiation leak, is simply beyond belief...


Being Greek, we are firm believers in God. During these times, we are expected to all pull together to support each other in this world. It means even more when you support people you don't even know.

Not everyone is able to give money and that's fine, but please can I encourage you to do something... anything. Even saying a prayer every day for those suffering right now, is going to be a help. It's easy to turn a blind eye to the events going on but I urge you do whatever you can to support those in need right now.

Japan actually donated supplies and funds to the USA after hurricane Katrina, as well as donating to the American Red Cross to aid hurricane victims. There was also a private business man in Japan who donated 1 million from his personal funds to assist hurricane relief efforts. Now I believe it's their turn to be supported in return in their time of need. Any suggestions/stories you wish to share about this, please leave them below.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Greek mannerisms at the table

So when Greeks are around the table, there are a few mannerisms that make them stand out from the rest. Besides the sheer volume and arms reaching across the table grabbing loads of food at once, there are a few little things that Greek are known to do.

To do a big "cheers" together, everyone must have their glass topped up and shout "stin igia mas" which means 'to our health'. Much better than 'cheers' isn't it? Also, you can generally start eating whenever you want, you don't have to just sit there waiting until everyone is ready before you can begin!

If the man has been involved in the meal for any reason (most likely if there is souvla involved...) then he will probably have a towel thrown over his shoulder throughout the entire meal, and he will use his special towel to wipe his mouth and hands (as it is likely he will ignore the cutlery and just dig in) He will undoubtedly want more salt as well.

Even if plenty has already been added to the food during cooking, he will want more. It's a Greek thing... he may gesture to the females at the table who will quickly grab the 'alas' for him so he can begin shaking it over his food in a proud Greek manner.

If eating olives with the meal, you will notice Greeks like to throw the whole olive in their mouths and then spit out the pips into their fist..
None of this dainty, discreet pip removing action, nope, we like a big old "touuuu" into the fist! Nice. Greeks, also have no problem stealing food from other peoples' plates (especially if it's close family).
Finally, remember you gotta eat fast as Greeks like to wolf it down! If not, you'll be left slowly chewing your patates on your own whilst everyone is eagerly waiting for their kafe and baklava!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Greek Mannerisms

The Sunday Reader's choice post for today is on Greek Mannerisms! That's the actions that Greeks do that make them easily identifiable! 

So let's start with greetings. When Greeks greet one another, it is usually with a double kiss cheek.

Sometimes it can be very loud with everyone fussing and kissing and hugging all at once! The guys tend do be fans of the "manly hand shake" though, which usually involves the arm scooping outwards from the body and then slamming back in to meet the guest's hand with force, followed by a firm shake! Sometimes, this is done with a loud "elaaaaaa re!" as well.

Everyone is familiar with the "middle finger" as an insult, but Greeks also get offended if you dare push your palm out directing at someone's face - the moutza! NA!

This can be given at any time, maybe when Greeks are arguing and have had enough of the conversation "na!" or when someone cuts you up when you are driving "na!". If you're really mad, there is always the double moutza...


Finally, for now anyway, I will leave you with the typical Greek "no". Sure, the word is actually "oxi" but Greeks tend to just tip their head back and make a click nose on the roof of their mouth. Usually in a slow motion too! It is so hard to describe, and I can't find any videos on it - but if you've seen it you will know exactly what I mean!

More of these to come soon!

Friday, 18 March 2011

What's a 'port of calardar'?

I love it when I'm in the motherland and you see non Greek tourists that are making their best efforts to speak the language and be Greek. Greeks love it when people try and speak in our language and we will also help them out and encourage them, which is nice enen!

Although we love it, it does sound pretty funny at times! I remember being at a restaurant when I was a kid enjoying my kalamari, when I heard some Englezes at the next table making their order. When it came to ordering their drinks I heard the man say "I would like a port of calardar". I was like, what on earth is a port of calardar? The waiter didn't seem to have any issues understanding him, as he scribbles down on his pad and whisked himself off to get the order. We were all trying to work it out for ages yet we just couldn't figure it out! The waiter didn't seem to have a problem though, as he soon returned with an Orange Fanta... Yep, the man had ordered a "portokalada"!!!!!

I still can't help chuckling to myself when I hear people greeting us with their "carleemeraah"and ordering "tararmarsarlartarrrrr", "harlouuumeee" and "calarmareeee"!  

Oh, and just so the non Greeks don't feel so self conscious about speaking in Greek, don't worry - people who were not brought up in Greece or Cyprus are most likely to have their own funny accent that the 'natives' also take the mick out of too! 

They still love everyone for trying though!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Typical Greek guy?

Wanna know what a typical Greek guys is like? Have a watch of this video of a typical kupreos!

Do you agree? Leave your comments below!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

BBQs Greek Style!

Sunday is the reader's choice blog! Seeing as it was a tie between 3 things in the poll this week, I decided to pick one of them myself, so this week is food - specifically BBQs!


The way Greeks do their BBQs are rather unique. Usually, it is a Sunday tradition; whatever the weather! Greeks make sure they have the best BBQs out there on the market (and often have quite a few different ones!)

Although women generally do most of the cooking in the house, when it comes to the BBQ the men take over. They get the meat from their butcher friend, stab the meat with the skewers, and cook them over the coal in the garden. (The women are still expected to take care of the rest of the food though!)

Generally, there is a minimum of 20 people invited over for a BBQ. The women are fussing around helping to prepare the food whilst having a good old gossip, and all the men are in their own zone out in the garden by the BBQ in which no woman is to enter!

The men will slice small chunks of meat off the grill as it's cooking (that's when it tastes the best!) and the men will have their little private starters whilst having their own gossip about life in the village. You will notice that the host will also have his cloth flipped over his shoulder for the whole duration of the BBQ as well!

There is so much more to say, so I will come back to the wonder of the Greek BBQ in a future post! If you are having a BBQ today, enjoy it!

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