Most people have seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It tells the story of a young Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man, while dealing with her crazy, big, loud family.
That movie is a true snapshot into my life. I am 100% Greek. Growing up, I went to Greek school, learned to Greek dance and loved to eat Greek food. Just like Toula’s family, mine is always together, just eating, eating, eating.
Being Greek isn’t a party all of the time. There are many expectations that come with the heritage. Here’s what I mean.
You have to be a great cook to get married.
I cannot cook. Seriously, I once broke an oven trying to bake cookies. My mother believes that food is the only way to a man’s heart. She claims that no good Greek man will want to marry me if I do not learn to cook.
Grandma always gives you more food.
When my family of four visits my grandma, she makes enough food to feed five armies. Her meals include, but are not limited, to an assortment of traditional Greek food: pastitio, spanakopita, tiropita, keftedes, lamb chops, branzino, potatoes, feta cheese, bread, and two kinds of salad. Dinner is immediately followed by an arrangement of fruit.
I love visiting my grandma’s house because she is the best cook (and she knows it), however her insistence that I keep eating brings about some problems for my weight. I come back from trips to her house having gained a few pounds and with an ass the size of J. Lo’s.
You cannot be a vegetarian.
There is no such thing as a meatless Greek diet. The Irish have potatoes, the French have wine, and Greeks have meat. Meat replaces grains at the bottom of the Greek food triangle. Most Greek meals consist of a piece of chicken, pork, lamb or beef that is the size of your face.
No one understands the deliciousness that is lamb.
Lamb is love. Lamb is life. One of the main things I missed coming to college was the availability of good Greek food, especially lamb. Every Easter, my family roasts a lamb on a spit. No part of the animal goes to waste.
When I ask my friends how they feel about lamb, their first reaction is that lamb is gross. Upon further questioning, I discover that most people have not tried lamb. They just believe that it tastes weird.
Recipes have no measurements.
If you ever cook or bake with an older Greek woman, you will notice that she does not use measurements. When my grandma bakes, she just adds things to a bowl until it looks right. Writing down a recipe is an impossible task, since the instructions are all in her head and her everyday drinking glass is not the same measurement as a “cup.”
No one can pronounce the name of your favorite dishes.
Greek is not an easy language to learn, but people do not make the effort to try pronouncing things correctly. Tzatziki is not pronounced “giggy giggy.” If you say that, I will laugh at you.
Ouzo, the most popular alcohol in Greece, is one of the worst drinks known to man. While some say it tastes like black licorice, I can assure you that the drink in no way resembles candy. It is an acquired taste that I will definitely never acquire.