Street Food and Masses of Balloons

On the day after Christmas, we walked down to the centre of Athens past Syntagma Square, overlooked on its east side by the Greek Parliament building. We were headed to the far side to a vegetarian restaurant recommended to us. It proved to be good food, but slightly unusual Greek fare – taking its inspiration from a number of cultures. It seemed popular with the younger crowd and we were lucky to get a table. Replete from such delicacies as savoury stuffed quince and aubergine rolls with smoked Metsovo cheese, we felt the need to stretch our legs on the way back home. Reaching the square, in front of the parliment building, we found ourselves in a crowd in a holiday mood. Peddlers wandered with enormous bouquets of helium filled balloons in the shape of every conceivable cartoon caracter.

balloon_bouquets
cartoon_balloons

Mickey and Minnie Mouse accompanied Santa in greeting the revelers. And, acrobats performed to the booming sounds a rock adaptation of Greek Rebetika music.

micky_minnie_santa

Last, but not least, stands of street food lined the pavements, including the usual souvlaki grills and other festive nibbles, but some more interesting seasonal foods. Roast corn on the cob and chestnuts, a speciality of the colder months.

roast_corn
chestnut_roast_seller

Loukoumades – fried Greek doughnuts. Any holiday is an excuse for these sweet treats.

loukamades_stall


The usual nut and seed sellers.

nut_seed_seller

Dispensers of salep (phone orders?). Salep is a viscous hot white drink made from the dried ground tubers of indigenous orchids. Definitely a seasonal drink for the discerning palatte – not everyone’s tipple. It is traditionally made in countries formerly part of the Ottoman Empire. Notice the juxtaposition of the old and the new drink stalls!

salep_seller

And, finally, in the National Gardens behind the Parliament building green parakeets feasting on their own version of street food.

parakeets_feasting

Lovely to see the city in festive mode.

Καλή Χρονιά from Athens!

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17 comments

  1. It looks festive and not too cold, although folks are rugged up. I fancy a bit of Rebetika music – we used to have a Rebetika club in Melbourne- and a drink of that odd sounding salep. Buon anno Debu.

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    • Holiday time in the city = street fairs. Two days later we saw some of the same street food and performers (and balloon sellers) in Monasteraki Square. This time they added on a big band and sellers of coconut sticks. Happy New Year!

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  2. Happy New Year to you both! Debi, I have been quietly loving the updates from Athens for the last few month, – thank you very much for allowing me to imagine being there, in food and in culture!

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  3. Kali Kronia, Debi, from Mason’s Island, Ct.!
    I would love loukoumades with my morning coffee.
    Will look for Salep, but perhaps not too hard, in spring.
    Often wondered about that vegetarian restaurant, will
    try it as well.. Many good wishes for more culinary adventures
    with the Kitchen Witch in 2016!

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    • Kali Kronia to you as well! I love Greek New Year’s customs. My gouri-gouri ornament for 2016 is even now hanging in the kitchen and pomegranates have been sacrificed on the door step. Luck all around, I hope.

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  4. How I love street fairs!.They’re often so much more relaxed than the grand events planned in many cities. I like to stroll about not be herded from one end to another. This looks like such a nice way to spend an afternoon during the holidays.
    Wishing you the very best that 2016 has to offer, Debi.

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    • It was a lovely and relaxing day out. I was looking everywhere to see all the different food vendors, getting sidetracked with cartoon characters and street performers. Eyes everywhere as my Nan used to say. We were also blessed with a bright sunny day that wasn’t too cold. A very happy new year to you as well, John. You’ve made a good start with 2016 with your fantastic book. I am so glad it is now available on kindle!

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