Greek Makes You Wanna Shout!

Athena- Today I went to my neighborhood market.  What an experience to say the least.  I expected bargaining, local food, and to stick out like a sore thumb amongst the all-knowing Greeks.  All of those expectations were met and then some.  I did not expect to be able to taste test anything that I wanted before I considered buying it or not.  Way better than free sample day at whole foods!  I tried a lot.  I tasted foods that I have never seen before.  Also, I didn’t expect to be a minority…not a minority as a blonde, or as a non Greek (I’ve already met that criteria everywhere I go) but rather I was amongst a large majority of 50+ shoppers.  The old women were ruthless with their bags and also gracious with their smiles.  Another thing that I did not expect was the yelling.  Every seller yelled (and I mean yelled) what he was selling and how delicious it was.  They also added in how much better their eggplants were than their neighbor’s.  Funny since I would then see these competing produce vendors sharing a smoke and a hug later on.


The yelling certainly added something truly Greek to the open-air market.  It added competition, laughter, business, and chaos.  And yet, despite the bustle there was still an appreciation for the human moment.  My favorite moment was observing two older men greeting in the middle of the market.  They shook hands and then held them together for 2, 3 min, oblivious to the noise around them.  Their connected and genuine greeting may seem a bit “flamboyant” to the average American; but to a Greek, and perhaps to many others, it is hospitality.  And of everything sacred and holy in Greece hospitality takes the cake, or rather the baklava.


Greek hospitality gave me my oranges for a little less.  I had .40 euro and they cost .33. The vendor only accepted .30.  Maybe because he didn’t have the correct change? Or maybe because in Greece three cents is equivalent to sincerity.  I certainly felt sincere as I struggled to communicate what I wanted and he saw that, as well as heard it amongst my 3 or 4 “eharvistos” (thank you).


Like my Greek language Professor said today, “in Greece you must speak loudly and confidently, even if you are pronouncing the word wrong.  You must use passion to speak.  Why else speak if you do not intend on being heard?” 


Exactly what I was thinking.  If you have lemons, make your voice heard to try and sell them.  If you feel your lemons are better than Nikos’s lemons then say so.  But afterwards buy Nikos a shot of ouzo and all better Ne (yes)? Ne ne ne. 


I guess to be a Greek truly is to love thy neighbor…and shout about it.


Kalinita (good night)






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