Tag Archives: spring

When John Gray coined the phrase “Men are from Mars” what he really meant was Crete!

14 Mar

Last Sunday was gloriously beautiful.  Seems we are having an early Spring here on Crete.  I can’t complain about that after having spent countless winters in Chicago where Spring doesn’t seem to start until the end of May, sometimes not until middle of June.  My mother would beg to disagree but she is the eternal optimist, bless her, which is why I think she’s been able to tough it out in the Midwest after all these years.  A few winter vacations to warmer climes doesn’t hurt either.  Love you mom!

We decided to take a (short) trip to the fresh water lake and have lunch to enjoy the afternoon en plein air.  When we were discussing what to do with the afternoon I kept suggesting we be Real Greeks and go for a stroll on the boardwalk and then spend 3 hours drinking 1 single shot espresso at any of the numerous trendy cafes on the strip.  Mr. Mallios didn’t like that idea, sometimes I wonder if I’m more Greek than him?  Pre pregnancy I would usually drink a pot or two of coffee in the morning.  Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little but you get the idea.  Then I’d enjoy at least one, but sometimes two, icy cold Freddo Cappucino in the afternoon.  Greeks go for coffee at 11 o’clock at night so I didn’t need to be ashamed for my love of the bean.  But at 11 o’clock at night the only coffee I’m ordering is of the Irish variety if you catch my drift.   So lunch at the lake it was!  I guess we do have to feed this growing baby so a liquid lunch of strong coffee probably not the best idea.

We found a great spot perched on a little hill affording views of the tavernas below and the growth of everything from thyme to fennel to wild sage.  We ate slowly and enjoyed the strong sun on our pale forearms.  About 20 minutes into our meal another table requested the awning be lowered to provide for more shade.  The owner happily complied and began lowering it to shade us from the (amazing!) sun.  Mr Mallios and I looked at each other tragically and thought aloud, we’ve been in Chicago all winter!  Bring on the sun!  But the locals were having none of it!  Typically they don’t sit in the sun, or go to the beach I should say, until June.  Even if it’s 80 degrees!  There’s definitely a rhythm to the seasons here.  Despite the high temps it is quite common to still see people dressed in heavy coats and sweaters.  I guess winters not over until the calendar says so.

We observed people strolling on the path below us and decided to play a little game called tourist/local.  This is usually pretty easy on Crete, and probably most Greek Islands.  The Greeks while not only having strong physical characteristics that might set them apart from say Germans or the Brits, also dress and behave differently than their European counterparts.   The first couple we saw had a stroller which the man was pushing (tourist) and wearing shorts (definitely tourist).  Like I said, because its still March even though it’s 80 degrees, the locals are still dressed in their parkas and winter gear.  Not until the Spring Equinox (21st) will we start to see shorts and summer gear. Maybe. The next group of people we saw we’re two couples strolling leisurely down the path.  They walked in a line man, woman, man, woman (tourists).  They seemed to be speaking together in a calm manner (tourists). The men, it was noted, had little to no hair (tourists).  About 30 minutes later we noticed two men walking side by side.  Hard to tell at this point. One had quite a large gut protruding from his pants (local?).  The gentleman next to him was twirling something in his right hand. Komboloi? (Local).  Up ahead, a good 100 feet or so, Mr Mallios spotted two women walking side by side.  Both were dressed modestly in below the knee skirts and wool sweaters (locals), hair cropped short in the fashion of most women over 60 here (locals). They seemed to be carrying a lot of stuff (locals).  They lumbered on, burdened with the weight of their packages but never once seemed to be bothered by it (locals).  A cackle echoed up the hill as one of the men slapped the other on the back in appreciation (local…could be drunk tourist…no, local).  He lit a cigarette (local).  The taller man clasped his hands behind his back and continued on.  We surmised that these two couples were actually traveling together and in true Greek fashion.  The women well ahead of the men clucking away about their children and life in the village.  Shouldering loads of whatever they thought might be useful to them on their journey or at their destination.  While the men, a good half mile behind the women, hands suspiciously free of any packages, lazily strolled up the path laughing and passing the time with jokes and cigarettes.

We enjoyed this cultural distinction and the differences between men and women and returned to our meal.  Rice wrapped in cabbage leaves with a tangy red sauce, wild greens dressed lightly with olive oil and lemon, a salad of seasonal greens and vegetables, and a shit ton of grilled meat!  Lamb chops, pancetta, chicken, little beef patties, local sausages.  All fresh and all prepared by the owners mother!  I could just picture her back in the kitchen  sweating away since the early morning preparing for a day’s work while he stretched his legs and imbibed another raki.  Locals for sure!

Lovely Lake Kournas!

Lovely Lake Kournas!

 

How to prepare a Freddo Cappuccino (Italian for COLD cappuccino)

Take one, two or three freshly pressed shots of espresso (pronouced es-PRESS-so…no x sound in there).  Four if you are having one of those days.  If you are opting for a decaf option I would suggest having just the milk part of this drink.  After all what is the point?  In a metal shaker put two ice cubes with desired amount of sugar and pour hot coffee over ice and sugar.  Gently mix allowing sugar to dissolve and liquid to cool.  In a milshake type mixer pour about a quarter cup COLD milk over one ice cube to achieve maximum results.  Hit the milk in the mixer allowing milk to froth up.  This is similar to the process of making whip cream.  Cream must be very cold in order to achieve desired results.  The longer you hit the milk the frothy-er it will be.  While milk is frothing take a clean tall glass and put two ice cubes in it.  Some people prefer crushed ice.  Pour cold coffee over ice in glass.  Fill remainder of glass with frothed milk.  Voila a beautiful refreshing freddo cappuccino!

Freddo Cappuccino! Yum!

Freddo Cappuccino! Yum!