I was pretty excited about this year’s Easter Sunday, because I knew it is going to be quite different than the usual egg hunt day. I celebrated my first Greek Easter feast at my friend’s house. Preparation had been going on for days and I can tell you, if Greeks celebrate, they do it big and proper. Everyone was talking about a whole lamb on a spit for days. The bummer is, I was not even sure if I like lamb, I am one of those crazy eaters that don’t eat cute animals. Growing up I tasted rabbit once – only because my aunt tried to trick me. I guess she wasn’t even offended, as I told her straight forward, that her “chicken” tasted strange. Other than that if it comes down to explore new food, I am usually first in line, so I hoped I would get over it and try some lamb.
Easter Sunday started very early for the “lamb team”. It had been spinning over the coals long before I opened my eyes. Always in charge was 85-year old Pappou, sitting next to the lamb, never taking his eyes from it and occasionally standing up and sprinkling some seasoning or lemon juice all over. This was serious business. The rest of the lamb team stood always nearby like bees round a honeypot, eager to learn from the chef, observing every move he made. At some point he declared the grilling process as finished and his “crew” started to cut and slice down the meat from the bones. I love how much everyone appreciates the food and how much of a special event this was. Small taste bites were handed out to the hungry crowd and I even tried a piece of the crispy skin.
Meanwhile more family members arrived and the house and the garden filled up with playing kids, chatting aunts, uncles and cousins and I was hopelessly lost and gave up to remember all the names. I once asked our friend’s daughter, how many cousins she has and she started counting and changed her mind twice, let’s say a lot! Although almost every member of this family is born in the States and some are even the 4th generation of emigrants, they declare themselves proudly as Greek and speak the language fluently. The table filled up fast with Greek dishes I’ve never seen before (and I am a lover of all Mediterranean food). I ended up filling my plate with nibs, desperate to taste everything. I also had some lamb and have to admit it tastes delicious. I still have to get over the eating cute animal thing, but it’s a good start.
Needless to say I had a blast, I feel like I borrowed a Greek family for one day. One last thing I have to set straight, Greek don’t say “opa” all the time, but I heard “yamas” quite a lot.