Greece

How to make an authentic Greek-style frappe at home

By: Jim Bamboulis

If the frappe was around thousands of years ago, I guarantee it that Socrates and Plato would have taken a break from their philosophizing, taken a walk to the village square, pulled up a couple of chairs and ordered a few.

Maybe even one to go.

In the 50’s, two Greeks working for Nestle, Yiannis Dritsas and Dimitris Vakondios,invented what has long been considered by many to be the National Drink of Greece. And if you’re familiar at all with Greek culture, coffee always plays a central role in any Greek-inspired symposium, no matter what time of day or night.

With the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s featuring it on their respective menus, the frappe is being enjoyed worldwide. Although it’s not the same as the Greek-style original, it’s a good effort. But now, you don’t have to depend on someone making it for you. With a few easy steps, you can make an authentic Greek-style frappe in your own home.

Frappe
Frappe (Photo credit: Robert Gourley)

There are two types of Greek coffee. One is hot, often quite strong and made in a delicate and intricate manner using a briki. The frappe meanwhile is prepared with a shaker, served cold, with three degrees of sweetness, determined by the amount of sugar and coffee used. Follow this recipe:

  • Look at the size of your pinky finger. Note the length of it. Now take a cocktail mixer or hand shaker and fill it with cold water using that exact length. (You don’t want too much water in the shaker at the start)
  • Take desired amount of coffee and sugar and mix with water.
  • Shake the mixer or shaker for about 45 seconds until you see a foamy top.
  • Empty contents into a desired glass (usually, standard drinking glass).
  • Add more water (about 1/3 of a cup).
  • Add about 1/3 cup of Milk.
  • Add ice cubes; they keep the beverage around them cold (obviously) but when mixed with the warmer water on the bottom of the glass, produce a consistent coolness.
  • Use a drinking straw to mix the foam with the ice cubes and coffee. To many, the sound of the straw moving around and mixing all of the ingredients is what truly creates an authentic frappe drinking experience. And again, using the straw maintains the consistent texture and flavour of the drink.

As far as varying degrees of sweetness is concerned, take a look below and determine which one suits you best:

  • Sweet (2 tsp coffee and 4 tsp sugar and often mixed with milk)
  • Medium (equivalent to a double-double)
  • Straight (no sugar)

That’s it!

Personally, I love sitting on a patio and people watching while drinking a frappe on a hot day. But of course, everyone enjoys it their own way.

So why do Greeks love the frappe so much? Why is so much time and money devoted to it on a daily basis? Life is meant to be appreciated, absorbed and analyzed using the art of passionate conversation. A frappe forces one to slow down once in a while and smell the coffee, sorta-speak. But most of all, it unites people, inspires those passionate talks.

In every sense, it’s a way of life!

 

Why do old people storm the gate?

By: Jim Bamboulis

When I was a kid my Mom would save up her very hard earned money and take me to Greece to see my Grandmother. It was awesome and I knew I was lucky.  Every few years, I was the kid in class that would, in his somewhat broken English, tell my class-mates: “I going to Greece theese sumair”.

Made perfect sense to me.  I was out for a couple of months while my mates took the time to understand what I was talking about and made killer plans of their own like who was going to be around to play tag or summer time street hockey. Nobody talked about going to camp in my area. Most families didn’t have the money and there weren’t resources to send poor kids to camp like there are today.

But besides the broken English, my Mom had the delightful task of packing 2 months worth of gear into a couple of suitcases and dealing with me, a rowdy, run-off-somewhere random kind of kid who sometimes had to be restrained with a series of belts so I wouldn’t get lost in a department store like Honest Ed’s or God forbid an airport terminal.  I can’t begin to imagine what would have happened if I mistakenly got on a plane to Athens, Georgia instead of Athens, Greece.  My mother would have had a heart attack.

But that didn’t happen.  Let’s continue.

I remember after the whole ordeal of getting to the airport (we always had to get someone to drive us, we didn’t own a car), getting our seats (no convenience of advanced seating in those glory days of the early 80’s) and getting past customs (I imagine the lineups were just as shitty back then but nobody could see your reproductive gear with an x-ray machine), we had to deal with Olympic Airlines.  But that’s a story for another day.

Ever get on a plane in the Western world headed for a place that wasn’t Western with a bunch of fearful idiots who lived in the Western world but still held on to that Old World way of thinking and acting?  Let me explain.

There’s really nothing like those brave airline reps announcing that “We’ll start by boarding rows 1-10 first” and having a bunch of fuckers rush the gate, hoping to board, with ‘Seat 39A’ on their ticket.  What’s more, it takes a very special airline rep to tell the old man and his insistent wife who also speaks broken English (‘Harry we hiav to git on day plain Harry, let’s go let’s go’) to wait their turn.

It happened every time! My Mom and I would wait and board when it was our turn. We probably waited because we didn’t want to get bruised and potentially cussed out. And while every other idiot insisted that “day plane wuz going to live weeth out us so we hiav to git on now”, we got on last most times.

Take it easy, Spiro. The plane won’t leave without you. Everything’s gonna be alllllright.

That whole boarding experience affected me so much, stuck to my brain so hard that as time went on, I tried to resist traveling with an airline that had old men and women acting like they were in a casino, using their elbows, rushing to get to the gate/slot machine before anyone else and waving the ticket urgently with such fear, paranoia and complete disregard for anyone else.

But you better believe that that shit still happens.  And it doesn’t matter where the flight is headed to either.  It’s not just the old school Greeks who push and shove their way to the front. The Italians do it, the Portuguese do it, virtually every Old World countrymen and women do it.  And every time I see go down, I not only stay clear of the stampede but I also remember and laugh at those early experiences of travel.

I smile too at my boyish broken English accent.

 

10 ingredients you need to make a real Greek Salad

By: Jim Bamboulis

Most people have a hand full of go-to cuisines they can count on to fill a hunger void. I’m a big burger and pizza guy myself but Thai, Mexican and Greek rank up there too.

Give me Chilaquiles or a juicy Gyro and I’m a happy dude.

After all, comfort food is comfort food. And although it feels like a good idea at the time, sometimes I walk away (or even wake up), question why I overdid it (again) and feel guilty that I ate so much of a good thing (again).

But of course, some comforts don’t have to make you feel guilty afterwards.  In fact, some can even make you feel lighter, better, fresher.

Salads are a good example.

The medical and health benefits of salads mixed with chick peas, red beans, figs, clementines, etc. are well documented. And lately, it’s all about the Mediterranean Diet which involves plenty of good-for-you greens.

There’s one salad in particular that strikes a cord with me. You may know it as a ‘Mediterranean Salad’ or even a ‘Greek Salad’ but for those in the know, this salad has a different, more accurate name. And for those who happen to find themselves in a restaurant that offers it, it’s ordered all the time. And for good reason.

It’s simple and delicious.

Its name? The Greek Village Salad. It’s real, authentic Greek. And unlike the typical and often-seen Greek Salad (which has lettuce in it), the Village is not often found in your neighbourhood restaurant. It’s an insider thing.

If you’ve never had or even heard of the Greek Village Salad and want to give it a try, there are a few simple ingredients you can get to make it in your own kitchen. These items are found in every grocery store so there’s no excuse. You can do this. Here’s what you need and here’s what it looks like.

Greek salad Français : Salade grecque*Cucumber
*Tomato
*Onion (white or red)
*Green Peppers
*Feta (Greek)
*Kalamata Olives
*Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*Salt (pinch)
*Oregano
*Your Appetite!

The method is self-explanatory. Mix, toss and eat.  The Greek Village Salad is light, refreshing, authentic and perfected.  It can be prepped and eaten at any time of the year. So just because summer may be over, it doesn’t mean you have stop eating a summer loving salad.

Soak up the juices with your favourite bread and enjoy.  And trust me, you won’t feel guilty over-doing it with this dish.

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