Posts tagged ‘Greek coffee’

Greek style Menu 2015

Greek coffee shop menu

Greek coffee shop menu

 

A Greek coffee costs an egg, instant coffee (Nescafe) costs 2 eggs, iced Nescafe costs 2 eggs and a bag of ice, a plain tsipouro (ouzo type drink..) costs a bag of mountain grass – “horta” for those of you who understand Greek –but if you want your tsipouro to be accompanied by “meze”, which means fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese or salami it costs a bale of hay. Any other plain drink costs a chicken but a special drink goes up to a kilo of minced meat. The menu continues in the same vein but the best part is in the asterisk:” the above mentioned prices are valid for those who voted for PASOK. Nea Dimokratia voters pay double and all the others pay nothing!!”

The above menu is the biggest hit on Greek Facebook today. The coffee shop with the creative prices is in Ptolemaida, in Western Macedonia. It is indicative of the mood of the 25th January election. A sense of humor detoxifies all situations. Let’s keep it this way…

 

Coffee time – the most sacred of Greek social rituals

I have been trying to write something about Greece that will not be related to the crisis. It is not easy, I must admit. On the other hand, when I cannot solve a riddle I turn to something else, occupy my mind for a while and when I return to the riddle it seems to solve itself.

I want to tell you what coffee means to Greek society. It often baffled me when people trying to compare prices with other European countries referred to the price of coffee!! Not milk or bread, much more substantial, but coffee!! The answer was staring me in the face: we consume as much coffee as bread and much more than milk. Coffe is synonymous to leisure and friends, to chatting in the sun in open air cafes, to solving personal, local or universal problems. Drinking coffee in Greece is very expensive, complain my friends from abroad. I try to explain to them that the café owner charges not just the coffee but also the time you occupy his table. An Italian who drinks his espresso in one gulp and rushes out cannot be charged as much as a Greek who will spend one or even two hours over his coffee, with his friends joining him and the shop owner often providing some treat in addition.

I suspected this all Greek weakness some years ago when I read Ilias Petropoulos book on Greek coffee. He presented more than 50 ways to produce this thick, aromatic beverage shared by all the countries previously belonging to the Ottoman Empire. The one recipe that struck me most is the one of monks in Mount Athos which is laced with ouzo!!!

Is it just the mild climate and the sun that shines nine months a year? Is it an inborn need to communicate with other people? Probably a combination of those two and many more that lead to cafes being packed every day of the year.

I was shocked the first time I saw my gran smoke. “Greek coffee without a cigarette is like a church without a priest”, she told me with a twinkle in her eye. She would have suffered today but in her time coffee drinking for women was limited to their homes and possibly their yards so she would have enjoyed her innocent, therapeutic chat just the same.

The Greek coffee scene has been invaded by various western type coffees like cafe frape, capuccino, espresso, capuccino fredo and so on but the idea behind it remains the same: coffee is an excuse to relax, meet friends, mix with strangers, chat and enjoy social life. It is worth paying that little bit extra just for that.