Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I like shwimpth! (Μου αλέθουν οι γαλίδεθ!)

ramni haniaI recently went to the 40-day memorial service of the mother of a friend. It was held in a mountain village of Hania close to Lefka Ori (Λευκά Όρη - the White Mountains) where she was born and lived all her life, until, in later years, she was looked after by her children in the town. The 40-day memorial service for a dearly departed is considered the most important, especially if you didn't attend their funeral which would have been announced without much warning. After the church service, it is customary to sit at a nearby cafe for coffee and finger food, in meal eaten as a celebration of an entire life. If you are a very close relative/friend of the deceased, you will also be expected to stay for a meal, given at the deceased's family home. The memorial service took place during the fasting period leading up to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (August 15th), which meant that all the meals served had to be lenten, ie meat, eggs, cheese or fish (except shellfish) were forbidden.

Above: The informal meal at the cafe. Below: The meal for the close friends and relatives.

This is where I met Manouso, a lively 4-year-old, who sat next to me during the meal. Here are his thoughts on food.

What are you going to have, Manouso?
Θέλω θαλάτα - αλά μόνο αγγουλάκι, δε θέλω ντομάτα - κι' ένα κολοκυθάκι -- α, βάλε μου και ντολμαδάκια!
I want thalad - but only cucumber, I don't want tomato - and thome thoucchini, oh and give me thome dolmadakia.

How about some fries, would you like some of those?
Πατάτεθ! Θέλω και πατάτεθ!
Potatoeth! I want thome potatoeth too.


Would you like to try some shrimp too? 
Γαλίδεθ! Μου αλέθουν οι γαλίδεθ!
Thwimpth! Thwimpth are weely good!


And what are you going to drink? Would you like some wine?
Θέλω νελό. Δε πίνω κλαθί. Θα πιω κλαθί όταν μεγαλώθω.
I want some water. I don't dwink wine. I'm going to dwink wine when I gwow up.


(Manouso suddenly noticed that some of the bottles were open and didn't have a cap on the top, so he called out to his uncle Spiro.) 
Ε! Θπίλο! Κλείθε το κλαθί! Θπίλο, Κλείθε το κλαθί, για να μη μπούνε μύγες θτο μπουκάλι!
Hey! Thpilo! Clothe the wine! Thpilo, clothe the wine, coth the flies will get inthide the bottle!

Manouso, you aren't eating your food.
Τώγω το φαγητό μου! Εγώ τώγω θιγά-θιγά!
Yeth, I am! I eat thlowly!


Do you like chips or shrimps more?
Mου αλέθουν οι πατάτεθ αλλά οι γαλίδεθ μου αλέθουν πιο πολύ!
I like potatoeth, but I like shwimpth even more!


(Manouso again notices that the bottles on the table aren't capped.) 
Ε, Θπίλο! Κλείθε το κλαθί, Θπίλο! Κλείθε το κλαθί, για να μη μπούνε μύγες θτο μπουκάλι! 
Hey, Thpilo! Clothe the wine, Thpilo! Clothe the wine, tho the flies don't get inthide the bottle!

You've almost finished your plate, Manouso! Bravo!
Όταν τώμε, δε μιλάμε, και το πιάτο μαθ κοιτάμε!*
When we're eating, we don't spake, and our eyes stay on our plate!


Would you like a snail, Manouso? (The snails took longer to cook than the rest of the meal, and came out quite a while after the other dishes.)
Δε θέλω τιποτ' άλλο. Τέλειωθα το πιάτο μου!
I don't want anything elthe. I've finithed my plate!


When Manousos had finished eating his meal, he went off to play with the other children present at the gathering, and didn't come back to the table until he saw the watermelon being served, which constituted 'detherrt'.

 *** *** ***
Part of child-raising involves teaching your child to eat the meal it is offered, which in Crete is often prepared and served with loving attention. Teaching your child to eat a home-cooked meal will aid in teaching a child discipline in its later life.

There are nations who wait for the state to impose law and order, not only in society but also in people's daily life. Greeks would never bother waiting for the state to do this, as they are already used to the extremely slow pace with which the state moves and takes action. With a child, you cannot afford to wait until someone fixes up your problems. You have to take action yourself before it's too late; it needn't take a riot to get that wake-up call. No matter what the reasons are for the breakdown of discipline in your own child's life, you have to accept some of the blame.

*Greek proverb, often learnt at school.

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