It’s been, let me see, at least 2 WHOLE weeks since I've attended a Big Fat Greek Wedding, Christening, Engagement party or family birthday and I'm missing it. Madly. It’s not just the food, drink and Greek dancing, it’s all of the below. The energy, the madness, the laughter.
Although I was born in the UK (to Greek Cypriot parents), I'm totally in touch with my roots and wanted to share what it's like to be a little bit (OK, a lot) Greek. Opa!
1. Shouting is to Greeks what erm, talking is, to non Greeks. I don't think a day goes by where I can watch TV with my extended family without subtitles-purely so I can hear what’s going on over all the talking, sorry I mean SHOUTING.
2. Food. From leg of lamb roasted in oregano to delicately grilled chicken kebabs with lashings of olive oil- if you’re Greek you won't go hungry that's for sure. I've actually never met a non meat eating Greek (yet) but I assume they must all be running scared…from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and cousins behind them, brandishing moussaka.
3. Greek School. If you didn't spend EVERY single Saturday of the first 16 years of your life at Greek School learning your mother tongue (again), your religion and Greek dancing (so you can shake it at the 1000's of weddings you'll attend in your lifetime), you might need to check the details of your ethnic origin again.
Ditto if you don't decide to inflict this whole day's culture fest, weekly, on your own children, and their children and so on. No pain, no gain right? Who wants 2 whole days off school on a weekend anyway?
4. If you're Greek, I mean truly Greek-when you hear Zembekiko (deep bouzouki riffs that sing of adversity and triumph) you simply can’t help yourself and must rise slowly to your feet, dancing heavily as if drunk, feeling the pain of the lyrics as people smash plates around you. (Often helps if you are actually drunk).
5. You'll never be alone. How can you be with 15 immediate relatives living on the same street as us.
6. All everyone talks about is food, and ironically, diets (often simultaneously while they're feeding you). 'You really shouldn't be eating this Greek trifle Stavros, but you MUST have some. Ach, you're getting so fat, you know that'. My late Grandma in Cyprus once told me it was her job in life to feed her grandchildren. What’s not to love about that?
7. You have to holiday in the homeland be it Greece, Cyprus, or North London at least once a year but ideally 3 times to qualify as fully Greek. 'Southgate please cabbie'.
8. In preparation for the above holiday/s best not to eat for at least 3 weeks prior to departure.
9. Zivania. This potent drink has been used for centuries and cures everything from flu to broken hearts. It’s true. Not sure you'll get it through customs though.
10. Greeks create the best BBQ’s in the world. It was over cooking kebabs that they in fact created civilisation. What? I learnt it at Greek school.
So do you relate. Are you Greek too?
Image by Kirsty Mattsson Photography