Tuesday, 13 November 2012


As yesterday's post showed, it's easy to get ripped off in Greece, and this often involves food-related businesses: σου πιάνουν τον κώλο, as we say in Greek (they grab your ass). Last Saturday, while we were on a family shopping trip, my kids spotted a packet of fresh chicken wings next to the butcher's counter at the supermarket, where my husband and I were looking at the meat array.

"How about some fried chicken wings for Sunday's lunch instead of pork steaks?" my son asked me. Nice idea, I thought, but got a bit worried when I noticed the price on the packet: €3.19 for less than 1kg of (Greek) chicken wings; the by-the-kilo price was stated in finer print at the bottom of the sticker, €3.99. So I checked the frozen counter where I thought they would be selling cheaper chicken wings. Not a chance on that day, which I would think is highly unusual at a supermarket on a Saturday - I would have thought they'd be fully stocked. There were no chicken wings in the freezer, unlike other times when there usually is.

"Let's buy some meat from a butcher rather than the supermarket," I suggested. After we left the Carrefour, we stopped off at the 108 ΚΡΕΟΠΩΛΕΙΟ, a local butcher run by the Motakis-Tzougrakis partners, which has various branches in different locations around the town. There was a mountain of Greek chicken wings in the display selling at €2.30/kg - that's nearly half the price of the supermarket.

Supermarkets in many western countries have forced independent butchers to close down, but in Crete, and I'd say the whole of Greece, butchers never closed down due to competition with supermarkets. They have successfully competed with them, mainly because Greeks are used to seeing meat in its whole form. Although meat is now often and regularly sold in vacuum-packed portions in supermarkets, there is always a butcher's counter in the stores too, which shows that Greeks are not squeamish about seeing their meat in this form. Furthermore, most Greek meat speciality dishes cannot be made from the meat in vacuum packs. Meat has also become an expensive commodity these days, so it pays to have a good idea of the value of something before you get your ass grabbed.

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