About once a month our “parea” gets together at the Pontian Society in Upper Darby for some good rustic Greek food and beers. Why the “lesxi”? You see last time we went to one of those local grill places we got a little too loud for the “Amerikanoi”.
“Why are you guys fighting”? one woman asked from a nearby table (okay it wasn’t that close, it was from the other side of the room). “We are not fighting, we are talking, WE ARE GREEK” one Hellene answered as if being Greek is a pass to be loud in public.
Our toddlers have a food fight at a restaurant “that’s ok we are Greek” say the parents.
We double park on a busy street while others behind us honk it’s because we are Greek.
We go thru a red light so we can go to the coffee house and sit for five hours it’s because we are Greek.
I remember trying to use the “WE ARE GREEK” excuse once on a state trooper on the Blue route after he stopped me for doing 40 mph. over the speed limit. Trust me it doesn’t work.
What was I saying? Oh yea, we’re at this place where we got a little too loud and everyone’s giving us dirty looks so with heads down (similar to those criminals you see on tv as they are taken to court to find out how many years they will be behind bars), we make a quick exit and huddle outside and discuss our options.
Who wants us? Like refugees without a homeland, here we are weighing our options. “We can never come back here”, one in the parea says. “Yea, did you see the look on the manager’s face, if we ever come back, he will ask us to leave and that’s the best case scenario. Worst case, the bouncers throw us out head first and then we are scarred for life” (ha ha ha ha).
We will be ashamed to be seen in the Greek community. Our kids will have to quit GOYA, our wives will stop making Spanakopita and our aunts and uncles will be pointing the finger at us saying “prepei na ntrepestai” not good.
So the Pontian Society became our hangout. We can get as loud as we want, pause and in mid-stride lay our forks down and light a cigarette after eating the mezedes. Besides, they have good Tyrokafteri and Melitzanosalata . It beats chicken wings and onion rings every time. Another good thing with the lesxi is that we can stay there as long as we want, unlike your local neighborhood grill where you eat, have coffee and then have the young college student come over and say “I’ll take that when your ready” as he/she leaves the check at the table.
Effie at the Pontian Lesxi is the most accommodating person I know. You won’t believe this but one time we ate, drank, had coffee and Xalva, watched the Greek news on satellite and talked for several hours only to get hungry again and start the whole process over: food, beers etc. Try that at your local Applebees.
During one of our Lesxi outtings, one asks the question: “if you could pick another profession what would it be?” I hear Greek singer, bouzouki player, soccer player etc. Nonsense I say. I want to be a food writer like Anthony Bourdain. Look up dream job and his name has to be at the top of the list. He travels the world, eats the finest food and drinks the best wine and discusses… … politics, soccer and music with real politicians, soccer player and musicians and gets paid for it.
I get this tap on my shoulder. “Hey Costa, how are you”? and it’s Ted Kostans. After the quick hellos we start talking about our community when the discussion leads to Cosmos Philly. “What’s that”? I ask and like a fine rug salesman in Armenia trying to sell you an overpriced rug in a flash he pulls out his laptop and starts explaining what Cosmos Philly is all about. Nice, I thought to myself. “Do you have a food blogger”?
“No” he replies “Are you interested in doing it”?
I take a deep breath and think to myself “I can be the Greek Anthony Bourdain. I can travel to France, Belgium and Argentina; where at wineries I can pick up a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon take a sip and say “earthy, full of aroma and richness” and then head out to the best restaurant for some foit gras and sauturn, I can be famous, write a book and spend May, June July and August in Mykonos I’M IN! When do I fly first class to Europe?” I don’t think so, is Ted’s reply.
Instead of Parisian cafes you will be writing about local diners and pizzerias. I want you to write something about the Greeks who own hot dog carts in the city and the Greek pizza joints. Look beyond the food and tell us who these people are and what drives them; explore the local food scene, look at how the economy has impacted their businesses and what they have done to adapt. Look into where they eat once they leave their restaurants and pizza shops. Give us some insight on the Greek distributors of the area.
Food says a story about our people and we want to know what that story is.
So here we are, you, me “Fagopoti” and Cosmos Philly.
Greek (Turkish) coffee will be explored next time you read this blog. A little history some politics and lots of culture, until next time kali orexi…