Friday, 19 June 2015

Recalcitrant Greeks and Rigani

Recalcitrant Greeks and Rigani

Recalcitrant – headstrong, stubborn, unruly

I’ve found it hard to think of a new blog these last weeks. I think I too have been hit with the disquiet everyone feels in Greece with its current political turmoil.

It’s hard to enjoy this beautiful Mediterranean country when all you feel around you is worry. The sun shines the waters sparkle but the people are depressed and anxious.

Strikes and Marches

Of course Greeks are used to turmoil and drama. I don’t think I have ever visited Athens when there has not been a March or strike or both, very often with the drama overplayed!

Some are amusing. There are the choreographed stand offs between police and strikers, with the street dogs taking the side of the strikers against the police.

There was one once I could hear coming down a side street from a distance. A woman’s voice on a loud speaker accompanied by a drum, and round the corner came about a dozen women, the leader with this contraption that amplified her voice adding drum and cymbals. It looked like an advertisement for a fair, but the banners said otherwise.

And then there was the amazing march that met our eyes this year, when thousands of yellow dressed marchers came down the road five or six abreast pouring into the square until the whole square was filled. We found these were miners (plus wives, children, mothers, fathers, uncles and aunts, all in yellow) come to protest that restrictions were being places on a gold mine. One would have thought the gold from this mine was the largest export in Greece!

Overload of Politics

Don’t get me wrong. The folk that come to our kitchen for coffee and chat, back this government, but one can only hear so much without getting tired of repetition, and we’ve had the same dramatic declaration that we are ‘coming to an end’ on TV every night for three or four months!
We are all so tired of it we can no longer joke about Varoufakis’s sartorial choices, or about the continuous smile on the face of the prime minister. And if we are tired of it so must the rest of the EU be, having their own problems to solve. Thus, our kitchen politicians are hard put to remain sane, and happily forward looking. It seems, as one Greek woman interviewed in Athens said, the Greeks are a recalcitrant lot!


Kitchen Wisdom

As the kitchen politicians reviewed their long pasts many agreed with this, especially in regard to their politicians, saying one government is not so different from another and that no one can change the Greeks. For they can remember Pasok, before Nea Democratia, the party Syrisa replaced. And perhaps some can even remember the junta, and have read about the Greek civil war and the great wars. Yes, the Greeks are tough survivors, but also very stubborn.

One bit of wisdom often quoted by Takis’ old nanny was mentioned.

Alaxe o Manolios ke evala ta rouha ton alios

(When Manos wanted to dress well he turned his clothes inside out) Nothing really changes!!

But we find that in spite of governments things do go on as they almost always have in the villages and islands of Greece, and the locals survive.

Rigani – Oregano, Wild Marjoram

One of the only topics we could come up with recently in the kitchen was who had access to the best rigani. One said the best grew in one place in his village, another disagreed violently that the best came from the hill behind his village. I said that what I grew and dried in my garden was pretty good too. (Though I have to admit that mine is too fleshy and green, and the rigani Anestis picks on the hills is better.)

In a book on Greek gardening I read that rigani is a tough survivor, and a species that is highly variable. So there you are, rigani is another subject to argue about!

I also read that the Mediterranean climate enhances its aroma, and that poor soils and heat intensify its essential oils. It is this strong flavour that enhances so many dishes. Though, I’ve found this too can be a subject for debate; the amount to add to a dish!

Who has the best rigani?

How should it be used?

Sounds like rigani is another really good Greek Subject to get hot under the collar about!!

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