Whilst growing up with my three siblings, my father enforced quite strict rules at the dinner table. Amongst his many “dislikes” were: talking with a mouthful, elbows on the table, smacking of lips, using the knife and fork sloppily, or, heaven forbid, use of a fork only! We grew up, of course, with good table manners. A by-product of this, perhaps over-zealous, parental coaching, was a gratifying acceptance of the very relaxed eating habits here in Crete, where it`s not been unknown for brothers to fight over the last piece of meat on the platter, literally!
On one of my dad`s visits to us here in Crete, we took him for a day trip out to Katharo. An unusual place, where the locals exist without electricity off the grid. Some have generators, some just use whatever means they can to survive.
Stopping off to eat, in what seemed basically like a kitchen with small dining tables and chairs, we were greeted by the host – Crete`s answer to Mrs. Doubtfire. With her imposing physique, intruding bosom, spade sized hands, a legacy of a lifetimes hard work on the land, her pinny tied up high under her boobs and the Cretan ladies headscarf tied expertly around her hair.
We ordered her legendary “Cretan Omelette” and salad, which, for the uninformed, for sure, is a dozen egg omelette, with the chips actually in the omelette, cooked on the open fire, in her enormous blackened frying pan, which could well be a prop from the pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk” it`s so large.
We watched her as she set about our order, her whole dress moving up and down with each step she took and her rather impressive tash, wafting gently, as she huffed and puffed around the kitchen.
Plying us with copious home brewed raki, she chattered away to my father, who was at the time single, I could see a twinkle in our hosts eye. Being quite reserved though, and of course, with no Greek whatsoever, he just kept smiling and nodding politely at our host.
The village salad was dutifully delivered, it`s impressively oversized bowl, overflowing with the wonders from this Cretan garden. When the omelette arrived at the table and was served directly from the enormous blackened frying pan, my father nearly fell off his chair in astonishment.
He couldn`t help being hugely impressed by this simple, but splendid display of Cretan delights, so tasty, it left us all, including my dad, mopping the salad oil out of the bowl with chunks of bread and licking our fingers in delight!
Little did he realise though, in nodding away to all that flirty chatter from our host, he had unwittingly agreed to buy several “extra” items of produce, namely a head of cheese, a jar of honey, almonds and a huge bag of apples, all at a princely price!
This, of course was no problem, we agreed to the purchases, setting a precedence for all future visits from ourselves or family, as a “sure” means of making a little pocket money for our host.