Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Recipe guardians (Οι φυλακες των συνταγων)

The latest food advertisement to hit Greek television:

Kikitsa, Pagona, Efterpi and Marigo (old-fashioned women's village names) are dressed in the typical middle-aged style of rural peasants. They are not as innocent as they look; they are the recipe guardians, keepers of the most well-guarded secret recipes of the Greek countryside. "And now here's the new series of traditional Greek salads by Hellmann, a taste of mama's taramosalata (from Macedonia), red pepper spread (Prespes), fava (Santorini), and melitzanosalata (I couldn't read the placename)."

Phoneys, beware...

This ad follows a series of older commercials where the same lovely lasses in the new advertisement are shown in their village kitchens making sushi ("the young ones are coming up for the weekend, so I thought I'd cook something for them") and chili con carne (a Greek mama runs to catch the long distance bus, shouting out to the driver: "Wait for me please! I want the children to eat it as fresh as possible"), sushi and chili con carne being the most unlikely candidates in a Greek mama's kitchen.

If you think Greece is all about sun, sea and sand, look carefully at the commercial; the women's appearance and clothing is very typical of Greek rural life in 2009. It may be an aspect you don't often see as a tourist coming to Crete or any other part of Greece on a summer holiday. Women that look and dress just like them are a part of my daily life. Kikitsa looks very much like my mother-in-law, Pagona resembles one of my neighbours, Efterpi looks a little like the old ladies that have moved away from the village and into the town to be close to their offspring, while Marigo, the one that impresses me most, reminds me of all the women I see on an everyday basis on the street just outside my house, carrying buckets, a hoe, maybe a chicken that they'd killed, some horta, weedy greens for the rabbits, a few as they make their way from their home to the field, maybe to milk the sheep or collect the eggs from the chicken coop, tending the flora and fauna on their patch of earth.

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