Greek Hospitality

Greeks are enormously generous when inviting others or being invited themselves. It is polite to always bring gifts to friends and considered to be quite normal to bring along a cake and a bottle of wine when being invited to someone else’s home. If you plan on hosting a dinner party, do not ever prepare desert, as you will receive the finest sweets money can buy from every second guest. I am seriously considering buying a larger freezer, as it is not possible to eat all the cakes we receive when inviting friends for dinner. When you have four children like me, you are tempted in opening up a toyshop, as my children cannot possibly use all the presents they are given.

My youngest daughter is 5 years old, and she has just made a new friend at kindergarten. My wife and I are always very busy on the weekends, juggling to drive our children to friends, get their friends over to our house, working, doing our respective workouts… My wife was delighted that our daughter’s new friend lived just a 5-minute drive away. On the Saturday morning before the Greek election , she told me that she would just drop her off and probably stay for a coffee, as she did not yet know the other mother. She planned on being back half an hour later.

Two hours later she finally returned. It is common for Greek mothers to drop off their child at a friends’ house and then to stay on the whole time. Obviously my wife is not one of those mothers, but in this case it seems that the mum of our daughter’s new friend had expected her to be. She had spent all morning baking – not just one simple cake, but an apple pie, a cake, koulourakia (Greek cookies) and biscuits, all homemade. Two different types of coffee were freshly brewed, and a leek pie was waiting to be put into the oven.

On Monday all schools were closed and another play-date was arranged. It was my turn to drop off my daughter. My daughter raved about this “nice place” where she was going to spent the afternoon: “Daddy, the house is full of food, there are cookies, and biscuits, and chocolate, and cake, and apple pie, and koulourakia…” For me, it was a normal working day and I felt bad that I simply did not have time to sit down and have a nice conversation. And of course I would have loved to try some of the goodies on offer. But I should not have worried; I was not allowed to leave without a handful of freshly baked biscuits, all nicely wrapped in a napkin.
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