Traditional Greek Easter

Ioannis and Kiki picked us up this morning to go to Kiki’s home village. There we had a traditional pre-Easter meal (feast) with Kiki’s parents and sibling’s family.

This is a totally vegetarian meal, no meat. Delicious, started with Greek coffee and koularakia and tiganithis, melamoukadina and tiganithis. Then we had the main meal: artichoke, stuffed pumpkin flowers, okra, spinach with tomato, rice, eggplant, olives bread and homemade wine. Finished with pastries and chocolate cake. We actually finished with a long nap back at our apartment. All the food was delicious the company wonderful and the day delightful in every way. I noticed that there were swallows nesting in the eaves of the house. The chicks had hatched but had not yet fledged.

Back in Kalamata I noticed that there are a lot of swallows. In the evening there appear to be bats, one of my favorite animals, they eat a lot of bugs.

Tonight we will be picked up about 9:00 pm to travel to Ioannis’ village for the Easter celebration at midnight. And, yes, another meal. This is not the main Easter feast; at this meal the internal organs are served. This should also be good but, since it is high cholesterol, I will attempt to limit myself.

Went to Ioannis’ village for midnight Easter service. Big dinner followed. Again, delicious. Great family gathering.The Easter service was beautiful. The small chapel was filled to overflowing. Although I did not understand the words spoken or the significance of the rites, the experience was, none the less, very meaningful. We all lit candles and went back to Ioannis’ mother’s house. I am proud to say that my candle only went out once. The flame is passed from person to person. The original flame is brought from Jerusalem every year in a special container. This same flame that started in Jerusalem was eventually passed to me. When we arrived we had another meal (feast). This time we had: tomato and cucumber salad, saganaki, two types of mageiritsa (a stew like dish with organ meat and spinach), chicken with mushrooms, a soft Greek goat cheese, bread, homemade wine and a wonderful tzatziki. This was topped off with a sweet cheese filled pastry. Got back to our apartment about 2:30 am. I cannot find the words to express the hospitality and welcoming I experienced. Especially considering the fact that few spoke any English. The young ones (high school to college age who did know English best) kept us engaged in conversation all evening.We will be picked up before noon the Sunday to be taken to the big Easter feast the centerpiece of which will be goat roasted in an outside wood fired oven. I am very well aware that this is a very special opportunity to experience Greece in a way that few non-Greeks are blessed to experience, a very special experience with wonderful people.

Easter dinner was another feast fitting of a king. Everything was beyond words delicious. We had roast goat, roast chicken, both cooked in an outdoor wood burning oven. The meat was cooked with lemon potatoes. We also had tomato and cucumber salad, feta cheese, soft goat cheese (homemade). Tzatziki, a sour cream based spicy sauce, roasted chicken liver, spanacopita, tiropita, bread, homemade wine. We topped it all off with a Georgian cake made by the grandmother’s helper, a sweet yeast bread filled with Nutella and covered with chocolate and gelato. Cooking in the old wood fired oven was quite a task. Starting the heat up at 9:00 am, putting the meat and potatoes in at 11:00 am and monitoring the bake until done.

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