June 18th, 2012
Grocery stores in Greece
In the sprawl cities of America we have vast grocery stores with more choices than we need. Organic vs. fruits and vegetables from Mexico. Whole aisles of water. You want water from Iceland? We’ve got it. Dozens of kinds of cold cereal. I remember my kids saying, Daddy only gets the generic cereals! As if the fake Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms were really going to change their life. Whenever they complained about what they ate on weekends with their dad, I would say, No way!
He only gave us weenies and beans. All weekend. No way! We had Hamburger Helper. No hamburger. Just the helper.
Way, they would say.
You could see they weren’t wasting. They looked fine to me. They just loved the drama of it all.
But here in Greece, the whole store would fit into the bakery at Vons. There’s an upstairs with non grocery items too, but the main store is pocket size compared to American grocery stores throughout the West. But, you have what you need. Coffee. Milk. Juice. Great produce. Olives –they take olives pretty seriously. Feta. Okay, the feta section is pretty epic. Lots of fishes in oil. I look longingly at them, but Mark would have a cow if I come back with some sardines or something. The whole house would smell like fish. I actually am not sure what I would like that they have. But that’s all we need—tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta, coffee, pasta and couscous. We buy fresh bread.
Maybe we have too many choices in America. I try to avoid the big grocery stores but there are certain things that are hard to get at the Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
There’s also only one kind of church on this island. Greek Orthodox. So that’s pretty simple.
No yoga. No pilates. No gym. No home stores or baby furniture stores. There’s an Ikea in Athens. The restaurants all serve Greek food. New Yorkers brag that they have everything you can wish for. Every kind of entertainment, food. Music.
Too many choices. If you’re in Wyoming, and there’s one bar with sawdust on the floor, well, you better enjoy it.
But, we have plenty of books and we’re reading up a storm here. I finished Erasure and God Bless America and I’m working on the new Jeanette Winterson book. She doesn’t try to come off as nicer than she is and that’s a great quality in a memoirist. I notice that with Mary Karr also. Let your bitch hang out a bit and people will like you better. It’s hard to like people who are nice all the time. It gets tedious. (Oddly when I tell my husband this as an explanation of how interesting I am, he gives me this look. Now what can that mean?)
Things are simple on this island. We ride the motorbike, I swim in heat and light. While he reads and drinks coffee. The coffee is good. The tsipouro and ice and water take me through the evening. He drinks Mythos, the local beer.
Being a writer means you slow down long enough to think.