**Warning** This post contains discussion about a delicious sweet food that contains high amounts of white flour, and white sugar. But I promise you, once you hear the story, you will totally understand why I’m giving credence to this sugary delight. We’ll call this an example of how this blog is evolving from it’s original “off-white ” focus. 🙂
Picture this: you are traveling through a beautiful foreign country in Europe with your husband, your toddler, your mother, and two friends. You are having a nice time seeing the sights, meeting the people, taking in the surrounds. Then, suddenly, it all changes. Your mom’s purse is stolen and it contains not only all of her money, her credit card, and her ID, but also her passport. Her PASSPORT! It is Saturday evening and you are supposed to leave the county early Tuesday AM. Oh, and you are in a tiny secluded beach town hours from a big city. Thankfully you have a phone, internet, and enough savvy to call the US Embassy emergency line. You get an appointment on Monday morning but in the meantime you spend hours on the phone with family back in the USA trying to retrieve documents that will prove your mother’s identity, making new hotel, car, and activity arrangements, and you don’t sleep a wink that night (oh, and you have a massive cold!).
This was my experience last week on our family trip to Greece. Ironically, I’d been planning this trip in my mind for about 15 years so I could take my mom to see her heritage. In my mind the trip was going to be epic and perfect. So, when the trip went south quickly, I thought, hmm….nope…did NOT expect for this to happen. Well, that is what I get for holding on too tightly to expectations, but that is a whole other blog posts.
Needless to say, that by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, and we were headed back to Athens and away from the peace and beauty of the Peleponnesse a day early, I was weary. We were all weary, and disappointed. We were disappointed that we had to cut an already brief stay short, and that we’d gotten violated by a thief who had clearly been watching and tracking us on the beach until we briefly let our guard down.
Nonetheless, our car full of motley travelers was determined to make the most of the experience, and this included finding a place to stop for a good meal as we headed back to the city.
Well, if I didn’t believe in a universe who answers prayers before this (which I did), I was certainly convinced by the time we rolled into Kalaliki Greece for lunch. Kalaliki is a spec of a beach side town on the East coast of the Northern Peleponnesse, very near Corinth. I wish I could tell you the name of the restaurant, but I can’t. The sign was all in Greek so the best I can do is present you with a photo:
As soon as we stepped over the threshold, we kenw that the universe had answered our prayers. It was Sunday and the room was filled with happy Greek families, infants to elders, talking, laughing, eating and being loud, boisterous Greeks. Two musicians were set up in the corner playing traditional music and their rhythms seemed to match the ebb and flow of the waves that could be seen from the dining room window outside.
The chef greeted us with a warm smile and delighted eyes. Maybe he was excited to see some American travelers so could chat about his love of Texas BBQ and his quest to take his wife to NY City, but I have a feeling he was the kind of guy who greeted all of his patrons as though they had entered his home.
Oh, and the food. Wow! Tzaziki like I’d never tasted, phyllo encrusted feta drizzled with honey and sesame seeds, Greek salad with crisp, fresh vegetables, and platters of lamb.
Midway through the meal I noticed an odd sensation within myself. A feeling that had felt foreign over the last couple of days, but to some degree since we’d live the US and were traveling (which had been as much hectic as it was fun). I felt comfort. I felt peace. I felt at home. We all did. The furrow over our brows had been replaced with smiles and soft eyes. We laughed. We took in the love and happiness around us with every mouthful as much as we took in the food itself.
Now to the point of my story (finally!). At the end of the meal, as we sat there with full bellies watching, the chef came out with a surprise. It’s not uncommon in Greece for the chef to surprise his guest with something during the meal, in our experience. Sometimes we got coffee, once it was an appetizer, once it was a leek soup that would blow your mind.
On this day, however, the universe knew just what we needed. We needed “salami”. Salami was the name of the dessert this chef presented us after our meal. He said it was a dessert his mom used to make for him as a kid and she called it salami. It was very simple: Bisquick, cocoa, sugar, butter, vanilla, milk, and caramel. He started making it at the restaurant to share with his guests the same way his mom would make it to share with family and friends during his childhood.
Let me tell you this, I’m not sure any dessert had ever tasted so good as this salami. It was so simple – a simplicity that can only come from a mother’s creative forces trying to put together a crowd pleasing treat to be shared by all. It wasn’t pretentious. It will never win any awards. It tasted like a giant hug.
And after that I knew that everything would be okay (and it was).