Greek Culture

Expanding ovens.

I lived for many years in one of northern Europe’s capital cities.   My apartment was small and I rarely entertained, preferring to dine with friends at any one of the many neighborhood restaurants.   During the week I ate ‘reasonably’ well at lunchtimes but my evening meals, if I ate at all, were never more elaborate than a plate of pasta or a hastily thrown together sandwich.   Over the years I hosted a few dinners but never for more than four people and hardly ever prepared anything more exciting than a cottage pie or the occasional roast.   I literally didn’t have the space (or the know-how).

Moving to Greece, with a new man to feed, presented me with a serious challenge.   He’d been married previously and I felt sorely lacking in the culinary skills department compared to my predecessor who had more than 20 years’ experience under her belt.   I knew that I’d have to learn quickly if I wanted to get delicious, healthy and varied meals on the table.
So, with the help of my previously unopened cook books and of course the internet I began building up my repertoire of modest but tasty dishes.

On the entertaining front I realized fairly quickly that dinners for four (my comfort zone), despite all my efforts, just didn’t happen.   No matter how small I tried to keep the numbers there always seemed to be surprise guests.

Many a time I’ve seen extra heads on the intercom screen and I have had to race to set a few extra places before the doorbell rang, worried that the extra heads would feel a little uncomfortable if a place wasn’t set for them.  

I tried the obvious tactic a few times “Agapi mou, when you invite X or Y please ask if they are bringing the kids along. Or, if you invite people at the last minute at least let me know before they ring the doorbell”   But the Greeks (well my lot anyway) just don’t think about such minor things.   A true Greek hostess, I am told, deals with extra guests without batting an eyelid. If she expects 4,...