Quaint little taverns right on the beach serving fish and seafood dishes, octopus spread out hanging to dry in the hot Grecian sun,
the sound of the waves lapping the shore and … ouzo!
This is the setting of most coastal towns, villages and islands in Greece.
Simple taverns get to set their tables on the pebbled or sandy beaches, and serve the freshest fish accompanied by the sweet-smelling anise appetizer – ouzo.
Most taverns don’t even have music playing and at first you might find it a bit strange, however, the clatter of plates, glasses and cutlery, the muffled sounds of happy conversations among the diners is music enough.
Ouzo was first created when monks from the monasteries on Mount Athos decided to flavor ‘tsipouro’ – a strong concentration of alcohol made from crushed grape seeds and must.
With an alcohol content of 96%, it is so strong that your eyes water as you bring it to your mouth.
Take small sips or down the whole shot – whatever you prefer is fine.
At first your chest burns and then a feeling of euphoria hits you.
I’m not talking about intoxication – hardly anyone gets drunk with tsipouro but beware … ouzo hits the spot alright!!!
Getting drunk with ouzo is nothing to laugh about – it is PAINFUL! You get a 48-hour hangover and that’s a guarantee!!!
Despite all the ‘dangers’ mentioned, ouzo and summer go hand in hand; that and sun-dried octopus.
If you are not one to try anything out of the ordinary, you’ll be missing out big time.
Take my word and suck onto a piece of octopus before you chew it and wash it down with a generous sip of ouzo ….
That is Greece in short!
Ouzo is a clear liquid to which ice is added. It then takes on a milky color.
Served with all seafood dishes it’s what I call, “Greece in a bottle”.
Don’t leave Greece without a bottle or two in your luggage – your friends at home will certainly appreciate the gesture.
Best ouzo is usually the one from the island of Lesvos: Pitsilides, Mini, Plomari and Barbayianni.