Friday, September 10, 2010

BLACK SEA TRIP: PART 15, Eating Our Way to Delphi

We were really very lucky in our selection of guides on our trip. We booked a few of them on the internet and had to trust that all would all turn out well. We found that we were pretty happy with what are called "taxi guides"-- taxi drivers that don't have a license to be tour guides and so could not legally accompany us into a site, but that still know an awful lot about everything, could drive us anywhere we wanted to go, and could drop us off at the entrance to a site. In fact, the problem with having "official" tour guides is that they like to spend a lot of time in places we'd like to move quickly through, or not enough time in places we really enjoyed.

We had a GREAT unofficial taxi guide in Greece named Makis. He drove us all over Athens on the first day we were there, talking non-stop while he had us in the car, and then letting us roam free in the various sites as long as we liked. He picked up right away that we are adventurous eaters and love to sample the local cuisine, so on our second day, a trip to Delphi (a two- or three-hour drive each way), he literally went out of his way to give us some unique culinary experiences.

Makis picked us up early so that our first stop could be at the Athens Meat Market. Wow. It was set up in a huge warehouse divided in sections according to the type of meat being sold. This is the place where all the restaurants come in the mornings to get their meat, as well as where many of the locals shop. We didn't really see any other tourists (for example, no one else was taking photos), so it felt like a real authentic experience.

The bunnies still had their fluffy tails and furry feet so that there was no question what you were buying (Apparently some unscrupulous butchers sometimes substitute inferior meat, such as cat, of which there is no shortage in Greece):

These lambs reminded us of Andrew's sacrificial offering for his graduation party:

More lamb, the primary red meat in Greece:

Chicken and chicken parts (nothing wasted):

Beautiful blue crabs:


Fish of every size and shape:

Next, rather than driving to Delphi via the main highway, Makis took scenic backroads that wound through fields and olive tree forests and small towns. We stopped in two villages to visit his favorite bakeries. Again, these were definitely not tourist sites, but places the locals bought their daily bread. The first one had a HUGE olive wood-burning oven that could hold 80 loaves of bread at one time. The bakers used very long-handled paddles to place the loaves on the far side of the oven. This operation could have existed in its same state 100 years ago:

Their specialty was feta cheese-stuffed bread. We had a chunk that was hot out of the oven, moist, fragrant, and absolutely delicious:

Interesting scenery along the way:

We didn't get to eat any of this lamb that we saw roasting on a spit during another stop, but it sure looked tasty:

We visited another bakery with shelves full of many different kinds of bread:

Our treat here was fresh spinach-stuffed bread in a very flaky phyllo-like dough. Oh. My. Goodness. We have since tried to duplicate the taste at home using recipes for spanakopita, and we've had some success, but nothing has come close to what we had in a tiny bakery in a tiny town somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Greece:
We look happy, don't we? That's how you look after eating the food of the Greek gods.

This was BEFORE we had eaten an actual meal. We had just snacked our way to Delphi. Is that a good guide or what?


  1. I loved the Greek food and it was so much better there than it is here. I'd go back just for the food.

  2. I want to know how your clothes still fit? I would have needed a replacement wardrobe about halfway through the trip. (At the very least, the flight home would have been MUCH less comfortable than the flight there had been!)

  3. Okay, you've convinced me to add Greece to our list of place to go. I thought the chickens looked like a line-up of chorus girls--ready to get up and kick their tiny little legs in unison.

    If you ever get that spinach-stuffed bread-thing down, I'll expect a chunk in my mailbox, or something. Or a how-to post on the blog.

    Fabulous post.