September 08, 2008

A story from Greece...

When I was spending a semester abroad in Spain, I got an invitation to tag along with my best friend Mina on her trip to Greece over the summer. Hellooo Greece!

We had a great time, and came back with a ton of stories. But there was something that happened on Andros that has stuck with me through the years and makes me laugh every time I think about it. I learned many things from my trip abroad, but in Greece, I learned what Fresh Seafood really means.

Andros is a sleepy island with 2 cities, and a lot of hospitality. It’s the perfect unknown place to get away. After our trips to Crete and Santorini, this was a great way to relax before heading off to the sweltering heat of Athens. The air is clean and the beaches on Andros are beautiful. They have crystal clear water, soft white sand and hot guys; everything you could ask for in paradise.
We spent our days in paradise eating, sunbathing, napping, the only responsibility we had was to repeat this cycle daily. The beach we visited daily was in a cove, and there were great big rocks at the upper most part that just begged for sunbathing. One afternoon Mina and I decided to hike down the hill to these rocks and claim them for our own. What a great idea! We were totally alone; our own private island. We sunbathed and laughed; enjoying being alone. Occasionally some brave guy would swim out and talk to us for a bit. I always was amazed at how the guys in Greece were so bold and would tell you everything they knew about America. But one guy had a different idea of how to impress us.

One thing I learned about Greece is that fishing is a big deal there, especially on the islands. By my second week, I understood that walking through any market in Greece you were sure to see fresh caught seafood. Mina even explained to me that we would probably end up eating somewhere that had literally caught our meal that morning. That was ok, this is a different culture and a different lifestyle and I was all about fitting in. So it was no surprise when we saw a guy snorkeling out into the water and diving to collect fish, urchins and other tasty delicacies.
What a surprise it was though when he popped up from underneath one of our rocks with an octopus! He climbed out of the water on to our rocks and nodded to us, as if to say “Hello beautiful American ladies, I have searched high and low and now have this great gift to offer you. Isn’t it lovely?” and proceeded to…how do I put this delicately…smash the ever living daylights out of the octopus on the rocks to kill and tenderize it. He must have spent 10 minutes picking the octopus up and then throwing it down against the rocks again, just to make sure it was good and dead. All of a sudden our serene little island was no longer quiet and relaxing, but reeked of fish and the thud-thud-thud of tenderizing an octopus.

Mina and I were stunned. Horrified didn’t even begin to describe how we felt and we didn’t know what to say or do. We kept looking at each other hoping he would stop and leave us and our rocky paradise alone. But he kept at it until he was sure that this octopus was going to be the tenderest octopus he had ever caught. He caught us looking at him, and he smiled. He motioned to the Taverna on the edge of the beach letting us know that that’s where this fresh octopus would be should we desire to come and share lunch with him. With that he dove in, catch and all and swam away, stopping just once to wave us goodbye.

I looked at Mina and she just shrugged, and we burst into laughter. What else can you do when you are in Greece on a sundrenched island and see lunch caught and killed before you? You order the salad at lunch!

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