If you are on a sailing holiday in Greece, or just messing about on a boat like me, after a hard day’s work you really should reward yourself and eat like a Greek when you go ashore, and visit a traditional Greek taverna.
It’s a shame that people often seek out the food with which they are most comfortable or familiar, rather than trying something new. You might think the menu is undecipherable, if you are unused to the language, but most Greeks speak some English and are happy to help. So take the plunge and order the Greek salad with feta cheese, try some aubergine fritters, grilled sardines, and beetroot salad. Don’t be put off by marinated octopus, a pot of vegetable briam, rabbit stifado or stuffed vine leaves. Other popular dishes are stuffed tomatoes and peppers, pastichio, fried zucchini, fava, tzatziki, kalimari, ….. The list is endless.
Just a few hundred metres from the boatyard, is Panos family taverna. It has been here for many years, and does an excellent trade every evening by feeding hungry sailors who have been working on their boats all day. Every morning their kitchen prepares and cooks a selection of fabulous dishes, such as pork in lemon sauce, cuttlefish with orzo, lamb kleftiko in a little pot. They also serve lots of meat cooked on the grill, such as chicken souvlaki and lamb chops. They usually have a pasta dish too.
The first night we ate there, I had fried kalamari and a tomato salad, and Tim ordered the cuttlefish. Another evening, we both ordered the lamb chops, and were each presented with a huge portion.
At the end of the meal they always give you a ‘gift’ of a small home made dessert – usually sponge cake soaked in orange and syrup, or a chocolate mousse macaroon concoction. You always feel as if you have eaten very well, if you eat at Panos taverna.
British people tend to eat earlier than the Greeks, many arrive from 7 onwards, but the Greeks won’t think of arriving until 9.30 or later, and its usual for three generations to eat at one large table, including toddlers, who are always impeccably behaved, as they’ve had an afternoon siesta.
One difference you will find in Greece, is that they don’t mind animals wandering about in the tavernas. I don’t mean a fleet of goats, or a stray donkey, but apart from the usual cats, last night there were several friendly dogs hanging about at the tables. If that happened in the UK, the restaurant would be closed down, and the public health inspectors sent for……