After a few days of wandering the sites (including the famous changing of the Parliament guards in their traditional outfits), small streets and souvenir shops, we had the desire to show the kids traditional Greek food - including flaming Saganaki (baked feta cheese). After strolling around Plaka (the tourist restaurant area in Athens) and being accosted by a multitude of curb-side pitchmen, all promising us "the best food in Greece", I started asking about the quality of their flaming Saganaki. To our disappointment, we were informed that here they do not light their cheese on fire! They explained that was "only for the tourist back in the U.S. and Canada". Ouch.
But, I insisted and pushed back - requesting that they do it just for us, just because. We found a nice restaurant up on a hill with a view, and they agreed to "light it up" for the kids.
What happened next was like slapstick comedy - a crew of four guys came out and surrounded a pan of cheese and proceeded to pour an entire goblet of Gran Marnier on it. One guy pulls out a lighter and the three others jump-back like brand new Girl Scouts on their first camp-out! They winced and flinched and squirmed - and after 3-4 nerve-wracking tries, still never got it lit. What a bunch of "authentic" wussies! So now the kids are disappointed, the cheese is soping-wet and drenched in alcohol, and no one will eat it (except me). Bummer.
So, the picture above is not ours - but we wished it was. Man, it can't be that hard to light alcohol on fire, but I guess if you've never actually done it before. Seriously guys?!? :(
When we get back to the States, we are taking the kids straight to Greek Town in Chicago or Detroit (or even Toronto for that matter) and getting their eyes-brows singed off the proper "tourist" way. Opppaaaaaa!
P.S. Having been here, one can easily see the rich tradition of male-dominated Greek restaurant industries around the world. These guys are born into the tradition and come by it honestly. So, if the main picture above was actually ours, it would have been a man in the shot, as we saw virtually no women working in the restaurants of Athens.