The best greek village salad recipe ever… and cross-stitch!


I wanted to share with you all a recipe which you should try if you like Greek salad.  I know there are millions floating around out there – but this is the best.  My cousin G. reminded me of it quite recently.  Actually, this is always how I’ve made “village” salad but I’ve diverted of late to the Nigella Lawson watermelon version. So, G., thanks for the reminder!

Here’s G’s version of the famous salad:

… whenever I make greek salad (the authentic Horiatiki kind with just tomatos, onion, cucumber, green pepper (sometimes), feta and olives with lots of oregano) I always make it as your Dad taught me.  Make sure the veggies are a room temperature and put salt on the tomatos and let them sit of 5 minutes or so before you put the olive oil on.  That way they release their juice and the “sauce” that is left after the salad is eaten is the greatest thing in the world to dip bread into.

I have only the following to add: do not use any vinegar on this version.  It’s not needed because the liquid that comes from the tomatoes provides the acid.  Most greek salad recipes call for an olive oil and wine vinegar dressing, but this is over the top if you just let the tomatoes sit for a few minutes as G. says.

And if you don’t believe me, these guys give the salad two thumbs up!

I feel I should sign off on a crafty note because I’ve been derelict on that front of late. When researching photos for this post I came across this snazzy one from a tote bag:


Now, if anyone comes across a pattern like this, please do let me know ASAP because I would take up cross-stitch again if I had something like this in hand.  This, by the way, is saying a lot – given that at the age of 37… oops 38 … I blame the fact that I need bifocals on this little piece that I made for my mother one Christmas:

Let me just say that it was actually a LOT bigger that this photo will belie, and that the canvas was not preprinted. She ended up getting it for her birthday in June the following year.  And now I’m half blind.  So, Mom, this is the evidence that I do really love you.  

I should just, instead, have stuck with something like the minimalist art that my brother V. had come up with some years previously:


But no.  Instead, I turned myself off cross-stitch forever – aside from a little piece that I made for Holly the Zombie Fighter Extraordinaire a while back:


Now, when Takis

saw the zombie hankie, he started to give me a speech about proper Greek female behaviour. 

However, his wife Spiroula’s feedback?

She said “You go, girl!!!” with a strong grik accent. Or rather, “gggheeeeeiou ggggo, gkerrrrl!”

I think that this is enough rambling for now.  In observance of the Labour Day weekend, I will not be posting this Friday or on Monday.  So – see you Tuesday!


the litany of the wiseguy

WARNING/ATTENTION/ACHTUNG/EKTIMISI: The post you are about to read contains references to drugs, addiction and other generalised bad behaviour. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

I have a deep dark confession to make. One of the reasons I find it difficult to knit of late is that I have become readdicted to one of the darkest forms of music ever: the rembetika (Greek blues – and believe me, the Greeks are experts at being blue. It’s a national condition for us – even here in the diaspora – it’s inborn and we can’t really do anything about it. Combine that with extreme fatalism and I’m surprised the Greek race has actually managed to last this long without indulging in mass cultural suicide. But I digress…)

I blame the Eurocup, actually. This passion for evil music reignited in me when I attended at the Danforth to watch the game where the $#*(@$&(@#* Greeks got themselves put out of the Cup. As it happened, the place we were watching the game was right next door to Greek City Video. I had promised myself I wouldn’t go there (Mom – stop laughing NOW!!!)… but on the first smoke break (I guess I could also blame the ubiquitous “smoke outside” by-laws or, for that matter, the tobacco companies which keep me addicted to the demon weed…) wandered in and spent … oh, slightly more than the average PayDay haul’s worth of yarn.

Amongst the booty – one of my favourite ever movies:

Yes, yes, I know – you’ve never heard of it. And, for that matter, I don’t really know why it is one of my favourite movies. It is very, very depressing – about a Greek rembetiko (blues) singer who basically gets treated like a whore, becomes drug addicted then dies, over the course of 30 years. Every Greek movie ever made, by the way, is either “I want to slit my wrists now I’ve watched this” morbid or along the lines of a really bad “Carry On” comedy – if “Carry On” had featured horny priests. But anyway…

Another terrific score was this new CD by George Dalaras, the hottest Greek singer going:

The title of the CD is “Songs about Drugs” in English… and features primarily Rembetiko music again. It was recorded at a concert in Greece in 2007 which was held someplace that looks like this:

This is Dalaras himself… I’m only posting this photo for my mother, as she thinks he’s cute! (And here’s a video for you as well, Mom! And another one.  And if you want more, just search “tragoudia me ousies” on YouTube…Don’t say I never gave you anything!!)

So, why am I going on about this “Rembetiko” stuff, you might well ask?? Well, it’s bad boy music from the 1920s in Greece. SERIOUSLY bad boy music. Rappers had nothing on these guys and the few women that they allowed into the circle). People got arrested for playing and listening to this music. If you’re really, really bored, there is a great explanatory newspaper story from the Guardian here.

(At around the same time in Greece, by the way, the fashion for these “manges” or “spivs” (or, for want of a better word in US/Canadian English, wiseguys) was to wear very pointy shoes with toes extending four inches out from the real toes on their feet. The cops went around at the time with machetes and would just chop off the toes of the shoes. If they happened to hit the real toes in the process, too bad.)

But why were the rembetiko musicians and the characters they attracted treated so badly? A sampling of the song titles from the Dalaras CD should give you a clue:

– Alcohol and Nicotine
– The Castaway Cigarette
– Rumba of the Drug Dealer
– Clink Clink Go The Glasses
– Hashish
– I’m an Addict
– Heroin and Hash
– In the Basement
– The Tobacconist
– Five Spivs
– Bring Drugs So I Can Get High
– Ouzo and Hashish
– I’m a Flirt
– Why I Smoke Cocaine
– I’m a Cocaine Addict

Well, now finally I understand why this guy always looks so damned happy:

…while his wife and daughter slave away at home:

But seriously, what is not to like about this music?!? Perhaps I was just deprived as a child. The Greece painted through this music is certainly not the Greece I was raised to think ever existed, let me tell you. I mean, the one little rebellion I tried in high school – wearing head to toe black – resulted in my father’s telling me “Black is for Funerals” and grounding me for a year or so.

Plus, my (very lovely and extremely youthful looking) mother used to refer to this stuff as “migraine music”. To an extent, she had a point… especially when I hauled home the authentic 1920s recorded versions which featured singers coughing their heads off on tape (there’s a lot of tar in that hash, you know!!), whiny Greek bagpipes and violins which sounded like two cats in the backyard – um, well, you know.

However, they sure seemed to have a lot of fun!!!

So, now I’ve decided I’m going to quit my day job – finally – and resuscitate the Greek blues in Canada. First, all I need to do is learn how to play this:

Now, I don’t want to tell you just how long I’ve had this in my possession… it’s a bit embarrassing. But, I will learn.

Also, the renewed interest in the Greek Blues, plus another addiction to the fabulous music of Cape Breton, has led me to dust off the old keyboard and start practicing again:

So, doubtless I will very, very soon catch the eye of some impresario who likes cocaine music, and will be appearing very soon at a major concert venue near you.

Stay tuned… and in the meantime, a happy Thursday!