"Greek taverna evening"
newspaper article illustration, ink drawing
This assignment allowed me a touch of self-indulgence. Having spent thousands of happy hours in Greek tavernas and observing the goings-on, now I finally had the chance to put some of my observations down in ink.
In Greece (as in many Mediterranean countries) the local restaurant is a marvellous social institution where families and friends meet at the slightest excuse to spend hours eating, drinking, talking and even singing and dancing. The establishments themselves range from the slick professional joints where the prices make the eyes water as much as the mouth, to the humble family-run tavernas. These latter are my favourite, mum or grandma rules the roost in the kitchen while the oldest son plays a Hellenic version of the maitre d' out front, and any number of siblings and cousins may be employed to wash dishes, prepare salads or rush around with plates. Only ignorant foreign tourists break the plates on purpose.
Menus, where they exist at all, may bare little resemblance to what may be on offer that day; and translations into foreign languages can be baffling or hilarious. (One place in Thessalonika appeared to be offering "stuffed sheath's vaginas". Yum yum. We didn't ask.) Luckily the proprietors will happily show you the kitchen where you can point out what takes your fancy.
At their busiest times, some of these eateries seem like organized chaos in action. A wonder to behold and good wholesome fun. Kali orexi!