Athens 2023 Athens, Greece MSMU Travels

Food and Cuisine Class

Hello to all those who are reading!

I have had a lot of fun exploring restaurants, cafes and other places during my food and cuisine class. It is helpful to experience Greek food during class time. When we visited a bougatsariko, I had a great sweet and creamy bougatsa, a traditional Greek dessert made with creamy custard and wrapped in filo.  We also watched as a man made the bougatsa’s filo, or thin pastry. He was very talented and said he had been doing it for a very long time. The process of thinning out the dough and folding it on top of itself provided insight into the structure of the bougatsa itself. He did a great job of making such a complicated process look simple. I could eat bougatsa every day, and I can see why it is a classic in Greek culture.

During class another day, we went to get Greek coffee. I don’t usually drink coffee, but I wanted to participate so I got some coffee to try. It was very strong, and the grounds were in the cup. The unfamiliar taste wasn’t bitter, but instead, very sweet.

We also attempted to read the coffee grounds after drinking the coffee. This was rather difficult because the coffee grounds didn’t really move into readable shapes. I tried my best to match the jumbled grounds with the shapes that had meanings.  As we were all struggling, a woman walking down the street stopped to help us read our fortunes.  I think the practice of reading fortunes is especially cool when it is influenced directly by something you made (patterns in the coffee ground from drinking).

After drinking Greek coffee, we went to get lukumades. These are addictive, and they have everyone on the trip hooked. These dough balls can be filled with stuff and topped with more stuff. Each time I get something different, and each time they are better than the last time. This time they were stuffed with lemon filling. It was really good. I miss lemon desserts. A lot of the desserts I ate in Greece were like desserts in the U.S. yet so different at the same time.

The emphasis on taste is different. The emphasis on jam-packed flavor in the U.S. is not found as often in Greece. Instead, Greeks focus on subtle flavors and blends rather than a sucker punch of one flavor. This was interesting to witness as I feel my tastes in food have had to change slightly because of it.

Whenever I miss the food of home, I walk down to Syntagma Square and order from Da Panda. Anytime I need a little break from Greek food, I walk toward my favorite Chinese restaurant in Greece. This place is amazing with great deals, coupons and most importantly food. I have tried a few of their dishes so far and each one is good.

I feel it’s important for me to include foods that are “foreign” to Greece because many people do not realize that there is still variety, sometimes slim, everywhere. To truly explore a place, I think it is important to indulge in variety and see what the locals experience, whether it be through food or something else.

I hope that you will continue reading!

Thank you and goodbye,

Rosie Ballmann

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