Category — Holiday rituals

Why being Greek Orthodox is cool.

Today is Greek Orthodox Easter.  (It’s also Easter for the Russians, Serbs and other segments of the Orthodox Church.)

Here’s why this rules.

1.  Our Easter typically does not coincide with Western Christian Easter.  You know what that means?  Half-priced candy.  Yes, that’s right.  While the rest of you pay retail, we swoop in the day after your Easter and get everything for 50% or less off.   This discount is a very good thing because we need every extra penny to pay for the rest of the extravagant feast we serve at our Easter table.

Discount gourmet bunnies, bitches!

2.  Red Easter eggs.  Really bright red Easter eggs.  While the rest of you are dying your eggs wimpy pastel shades, we are busy making ours like like they were dipped in a vat of blood.  This comes in handy if we are trying to spot them from a satellite.

Don't be scared. They don't glow in the dark.

We also play a fun game with them.  We take turns bashing the ends of the eggs with each other.  The last person to have an unbroken egg wins.

Food and aggression all rolled up into one custom.  How can you not love that?

3.  The Easter Feast.  Greeks are always amused when we hear things like, “I’m making a honey-baked ham for Easter.”

Bwahhahha.   Just ham?

People, we have at least three meat-based entrees.  Lamb is always a main character, flanked by other meats like turkey and ham.  Then there are a variety of pastas, salads, olives, feta cheese and anchovies.

Yes, you wimps.  We eat anchovies and we love them.

4. The dessert part of the Easter feast.  This is so decadent that it deserves its own number.  My hosts this year had at least four cakes, three different Greek pastries and another three Greek cookies.

The only thing missing was an insulin syringe.

5.  Wine.  My people have been drinking wine for five millenia.  Probably as far back as 3,000 B.C.  I think I had my first taste of wine when I was about seven.  (Of course, it was mixed in with a lot of water, but we were taught at an early age that a glass of wine is something that adults enjoy with their meals.  My father had a glass of wine or a beer every single night of his life with dinner.)

We are just a party culture.

So here I sit stuffed after this year’s Easter celebration.  I also may or may not be on a serious sugar buzz.   And I also may or not be wearing loose-fitting yoga pants right now because they are the only thing in my closet that won’t cut off my blood supply.

I wouldn’t know how to celebrate any other way.

Christos Anesti to all of my Eastern Orthodox readers.  And to the rest of you who celebrate the other Easter, thank you for leaving some great gourmet chocolate bunnies behind.

April 15, 2012   Comments Off on Why being Greek Orthodox is cool.

Tales from Disney World

Or as my friend Denise calls it, The Kingdom of Hell.

Roadmap to blisters and heat exhaustion.

Required to be in Orlando for business on Monday, I thought I would take this opportunity to spend the weekend at Walt Disney World.  Because I am so tired after three days of being moused, all that I am capable of is a quick review of the highlights/lowlights.  Hi ho, hi ho…it’s off to blog, we go!

Dumb thing overheard at the Animal Kingdom:

Is that really an anteater or is that a dog with a costume on?

Dumb thing overheard at Hollywood Studios:

Mom!  I can’t believe that girl is wearing my shirt.  I don’t care though because I’m rockin’ it better than she is!

Constantly heard at the Magic Kingdom:

Children screaming non-stop for five hours.  What wasn’t heard was the quiet sound of me going insane.

Award for longest wait and lamest attraction ever:

Toy Story. Ninety minute wait only to end up on a seven minute ride where you get to shoot some targets.  If there was live ammo in that gun, I would have shot myself.

What this really means is that if you are over 50 this ride will kill you.

Weird things parents do:

Bring newborns to Disney World.  What could you be thinking?  It’s not like they are going to remember and you will be spending all of your time in the bathroom changing diapers anyway.

Most amazing meal:

Brown Derby/Hollywood Studios.  I called the manager over (who, btw, made Rupaul look straight) to compliment him on the service.)  That’s when the free stuff started to flow.  Champagne, dessert, etc.  My kind of restaurant and manager.  I even got called “sweet cakes.”  I’m guessing that’s not from the Disney handbook.

Second most amazing meal:

Sushi at Tokyo Dining in the Japan section of the World Showcase.  I have never been bowed to more in my life.  Plus the sushi killed.  Arrigato!

Restaurant voted most likely to make your eardrums bleed:

I did not realize that booking a table for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom would be like the audio version of water boarding.  Next time I’m showing up with a machete.  (Click on the link below for nine seconds of audio hell.)


Amusing things seen at the gift shop:

Corn on the cob holders with mouse ears.  Crayons with Disney character heads. Tongs with Mickey hands on the end.  M&Ms in every color of the Pantone chart.  A $250 handbag with Disney logos. Wind chimes with Mickey heads.  4,273 key chain types.

I’m proud to say that I bought nothing, although I really eyeballed one of those African rain sticks.  Mostly because the sound momentarily pleasantly drowned out the screaming children.

Then and now:

The first time I visited the Magic Kingdom was 1975.  Those were the days of the paper ticket books and the coveted E-ticket rides.  Today’s iteration includes a fingerprint scan, iPhone apps and Fast Pass options to (allegedly) make your visit more efficient.

Back in 1975, I couldn’t get enough.  Today, after three days in the park, I feel like my feet have been walking on hot embers and that someone has bludgeoned my back with a baseball bat.

Hey, Disney!  May I suggest  a new deluxe package?  You know…something that involves litter bearers carrying me from attraction to attraction?  Just a thought.

April 1, 2012   Comments Off on Tales from Disney World

The Christmas Eve crab claw beating

For those who celebrate Christmas, more likely than not, your family has annual traditions and rituals they partake in.

For many years now, my mother and I have been celebrating Christmas at Rantopolis South in the Florida Keys.  The geography lends itself to some mighty fine seafood eating, including the coveted seasonal stone crab claws.

Boats pull up to the dock and minutes later you are driving away with a bag full of yummy.

We always place our order right after Thanksgiving.  We hope for the colossals, but settle for the jumbos if the former aren’t available.

But here’s the thing.  Although these puppies are beyond dee-lish, they are a super pain to crack open.

In the past, I’ve tried all sorts of things.  Tools that look like nutcrackers, long skinny metal prongs to get to the crab meat and brute strength.

I’ve had shells flying everywhere and near finger amputations.  (Trust me, blood is not a good sauce for these things.) And I’m not really interested in something that is going to harsh my vacation vibe.  Especially when they cost close to $30 a pound.

However, a couple of years ago, I had a stroke of genius.  A way to get to the crab meat easily without:

a. splattering the shell and meat everywhere

b.  a hospital visit

So, my friends, through the magic of You Tube, I would like to share with you the annual Christmas Eve beating of the crab claws.

Put towel on floor.  Place individual serving on crab claws into a slider bag.  Close slider bag.  Beat the crap out of the claws with a wooden mallet.  Serve.  (Don’t forget the mustard sauce.)

Voila!  No flying shells, spilled blood or trip to emergency room!  Plus it feels great to beat the crap out of something.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that your dinner wasn’t on the floor before you ate it, right?

December 26, 2011   Comments Off on The Christmas Eve crab claw beating