Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Greece: BBQ Bliss

The day after the blessing ceremony was set aside for rest and rehabilitation. After all, we were to be dancing Greek and breaking plates into the morning hours... So we slept in, hung out by the pool a bit, and explored the area.

We took a cab ride around a bit as well. Our cab driver was a real character. Coke bottle glasses, he looked to be googly-eyed, like a squid. He drove a brown Mercedes sedan-- I think it was a diesel-- and it appeared that the horn was broken, because he drove with the windows down and yelled "Beep Beep!" in a high pitched voice when traffic needed to pay him some attention. We thought him quite entertaining. He knew a limited amount of English-- "George Bush!" he said, making conversation, with a thumbs up. Remember, this was before 9/11 and opinions about political leaders weren't quite so polarized. So we had a kindly exchange of limited communication. He was cheerful and smiling, very friendly, despite the difficulties communicating.

Later we would take another cab ride with him-- to a small village where Armand's uncle lives. In the sedan were Mr. Beep-beep (driving), Armand (navigating), and in the backseat there was me, Suzy, Melissa, and Maria. So it was cozy, to say the least. And Mr. Beep-beep led us on a long, arduous drive through the country, without street lights, without street signs, and with fading, dim headlights.

Adventure makes experience more vivid, and soon we would reach our destination and be treated to a meal most exquisite.

We pulled up to what looked to be a vacated gas station. Several tables were arranged together to form a long banquet table, and tablecloths were spread across. We were told to sit back, relax, and have some wine. Several carafes of table wine were ushered in, and socializing commenced.

Soon, food was brought to the table. It just seemed to appear out of nowhere. I never saw a kitchen. Yet here come tomatoes, tzatsiki, and-- fresh french fries, not frozen, that were so delectable the memory of them makes me salivate. Crunchy and crispy, yet moist and a little gooey in the middle... yummy, to put it one way.

I don't remember all that we were served that night, not because it wasn't good enough to be remembered, but because everything-- just about everything-- was outshined by the BBQ lamb. It had a similar consistency to the french fries-- crunchy, moist, and gooey goodness. But it was meaty, salty, tangy. Just downright good.

We took turns linking arms and toasting each other. First it was two people, then three, then the groups got big. Armand and Kiki got us started, displaying the proper technique. We toasted the dinner, the wedded couple, the lamb, the hosts and hostesses, George Bush, those little round things, the tablecloths, the ocean, and life itself. We toasted to wine, and to toasting. We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now... Well, you get the idea.

We piled all the empties around Dave and made it look like he was the one who had partaken of it all. I'm not sure if this was the incident that earned him the moniker "Captain Morgan", but it was nonetheless his nickname for the latter part of the trip. This all may have given birth to the Captain Morgan advertising campaign of around 2007 or so. But we're not sniveling.

The cab drivers stayed and ate (and drank) with us, and then we made the long trip back to the hotel in Eretria. Armand again navigated through the dark and at one point identified some areas where some significant battles had been waged by the Spartan Army. I'd love to learn more about what he spoke about so eloquently. He's got an ability for doing that-- assessing a situation and poignantly painting a verbal picture that not only pleases, but endures.

After I had had thoughts of eternal wandering in the backlands of Greece, of being lost forever in a brown sedan-- the same color of the dirt and brush that surrounded us-- we made it back to our destination. Those who hadn't fallen asleep in the cab woke those who had and we all headed back to our hotel rooms. We promptly got some rest in anticipation of another taxing day in paradise.


Suzy said...

I don't remember driving about town with that cab driver during the day but I sure remember him that night. I believe we wondered if we would make it alive. The food was outstanding and I know we came home and tried to make french fries that were that good.

Farlar said...

I remember your stories about Mr. Beep-Beep! I never met the cab driver, but I feel like I would recognize him on the street from your physical description and reenactment of his beeping.

After reading this blog post I'm really hungry for good Greek food.

Gerri said...

The Greek BBQ sounds wonderful! I think Mr. Beep Beep was in New York when I was there! He might have been in Cancun, too!!