Friday, November 9, 2007

More Notes on the Greek Table

There are at least two kinds of fruit here in Greece that I never tasted in the States, and they are both delicious.

One is “Queens.”

“Queens?” I asked Demetrios.


“Queen’s what? Queen’s crown? Queen’s slipper, what?”

“Just Queens.”

“Spell it?”


Quince looks rather like an oversized pear. You bake it with water and sugar and cinnamon and I don’t (yet) know what else. Mena adds cognac and orange juice. Vasilea is going to give me her recipe. It tastes somewhat like baked apples, but with a special perfume all its own.

The other fruit new to me is Lotus. Remember Odysseus and the Land of the Lotus-eaters? If you started eating the lotus, you would be trapped there and never leave? Well, perhaps it isn’t quite that good, but it's delicious.

I saw some at the fruit and vegetable stand the other day and I asked Anesti, the proprietor, “How do we eat these?”

“Peel them and eat them just like an apple,” he said. “They’re very good.” So I bought one, and it was so good I went back the next day and bought five more.

(“I was right, wasn’t I?” said Anesti, with a grin.)

They look like tomatoes, from a distance. They feel harder, though. Inside, they have approximately the color and texture of a very ripe cantaloupe. They are juicy and mildly sweet and do not taste like a cantaloupe, but more like a peach.

There are also pomegranates here, but you can find them rather easily in the States, too. I find them not good enough to be worth the trouble it takes to eat them.

Hint from Helen: Wear a bib when eating pomegranates, or at least do not wear white.

Today I made roast red peppers, copying the way I once watched Mena do it. You rinse off the peppers, toss them into a medium-high oven, whole, until they burn a little. (Your nose will tell you.) Then you plunk them into cold water until you can handle them. Cut them open, discard the insides, cut the rest into strips. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and, optionally, a sprinkling of sugar.

Demetrios loves them. Christos, too.

Note to self: The main (midday) meal should always be cooked for three, not two. (You should have figured this out a couple of years ago.)

We've just finished our midday meal, and Demetrios and Christos have gone to the office of the gas company, to see if they can understand why we have been charged such high bills for natural gas when we weren't even here.