November 1, 2021 No Comments

On our recent retirement journey throughout Greece, we enjoyed delicious meals everywhere we visited.  The freshness of the food did not surprise us.  Food to table is how the Greeks have eaten since the beginning of time.  Many take their home-grown products to the open-air markets (the tomatoes are outstanding!), which take place in almost every city and town, and some grow them for their own use.

Olive trees exist in the millions!  Everywhere we went, we saw endless rows of them – they went on and on as far as you can see.  In the plains of the Peloponnesus, home of the world-famous Kalamata olives found in Greek salads.  And in the fields and villages of Central Greece – and on the islands of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The oldest tree is over 3000 years old – we went looking for it and found it on the island of Crete.  It was awesome standing next to it knowing that our ancestors planted this tree for the generations to come and that includes us.


Right next to this ancient tree is a small tavern.  We stopped for refreshments – the most hospitable people welcomed us and as we chatted, I spotted grapes hanging right above us on the trellis!  In Nea Makri, an enterprising man brought his grapes to market in a very low-cost way.  Simply delicious!


We loved wandering around the marketplace picking up small souvenirs and what-nots.  We watched as fruits and vegetables were brought in and laid out for our selection.  Tomatoes, eggplant, squash, etc.  It was good to know that the ones we were served at the tavernas came right from the farm!


Fish was incredibly fresh…hanging them out to dry was a common sight.  Allowing us to pick a fish from a tank was a favorite thing for Zaf to do!  Knowing that our appetizer was today’s catch added to our enjoyment of it.  The food stalls in the marketplace in Thessaloniki showcased the freshest fish you can buy and relish for dinner that night.  A bit of grilled seafood with lemon and oil on it and we were good to go!


The local people were not the only ones enjoying fresh meat from the marketplace.  The butcher shops also got to buy their selections and make it possible for people to take them home and cook up any way they wanted.  Some restaurants had a unique way to show what is available on their menu!


Let’s get some Greek Food!  People that we met in our travels and in our own backyard have told us that it is a typical answer to “What are we going to eat tonight?!  Zaf and I were raised with Greek food on the table daily; the tastes and smells were incredible, and we thought that everyone ate the way we did.  Our school lunches were feta cheese and tomato sandwiches, maybe a dolmade or two on the side and a kourambhie (butter cookie) for dessert.  At the time, we were embarrassed about sitting next to the other kids eating peanut butter sandwiches.  Over time, while we continued to enjoy our cuisine, Greek food in the world caught on and it is highly touted to be the best way to eat for healthy living.

I remember someone asking me if we (Greeks in America) celebrated Thanksgiving – which I thought was a little weird question.  My response was: “Of course we do, we have turkey and yams, cranberry sauce and corn – but we also have spanakopita, Greek salad and feta cheese.  Dessert was pumpkin pie and baklava”!

How wonderful that people have discovered scrumptious Greek food.  Knowing that others eat as we do brings us joy and contentment.

And thus, we have Retired Well.

All photographs From the Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf.

For more information about Greece, please visit:


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