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05 October 2006

Menu: Souvlaki (and that's it)

A visit to an old fashioned Souvlaki shop

Souvlaki is one of the internationally most known Greek foods. Essentially it is just meat on a stick, but comes in many varieties. In Athenian parlance, the term "souvlaki" also means the complete small pita bread with souvlaki, fries, tomato, tsatsiki, and anything else - confusing enough it may be called souvlaki even if it contains a sausage or gyros instead of a real souvlaki. The modern souvlaki shops offer a wide variety of the stuff, customized to the nth degree.

Yesterday we went to an old fashioned souvlaki shop. They offer exactly one food on their menu: Souvlaki. To be more precise, they offer what in Athens is called "Kalamaki", small wooden stick souvlaki with bread, no pita, no fries, no tomatoes, no salad to go with it, nothing...

They do have one brand of beer and some soft drinks like lemonades. They have a special charcoal fueled grill exactly the size of their souvlakia and an elaborate procedure to produce the right amount of food through that pipeline. That is necessary, because in contrast to most modern souvlaki joints, their product is not pre-grilled and later warmed up. Specialization has its merits, the taste is excellent. We didn't even get lemons with our order, instead the souvlakia are dipped into a lemon juice, olive oil (and likely secret herbs) mixture.

Next to the cashier is a multiplication table: 1 - 1.20, 2 - 2.40, and so on up to 24 or so. You can only do that when you have only one product, but I would have guessed that you get to know these numbers by heart fast.

Shops like these were more common a couple of years ago. The existed alongside the "normal" souvlaki shops. And there were (and sometimes still are) varieties that sell only steaks (brizoladika), biftekia, garides (shrimps), or some other single selection speciality. These usually serve at least a salad with their main food, but don't count on it. I remember as a teenager being taken to one of the shrimp places and they only had either Cola or Lemonade, whatever box was on top, but not both. The "kalamaki" only shops have become a bit more rare, and I'll likely go and get some more from the one we visited yesterday on Papagou Avenue in Zografou. Did I mention they don't have home delivery either?

What I did forget to mention: The place was busy, with plenty of customers.

Posted by betabug at 14:07 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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Re: Menu: Souvlaki (and that's it)

Couldn't agree more!
Had been in that place in Zografou once or twice, ages ago... and it's really nice that it still remains the same. How the ... u discover it?????

Posted by: George Gasparinatos at May 10,2008 19:50
Re: Menu: Souvlaki (and that's it)

It was easy to discover, I used to live around the corner :-)
Now I live 5 minutes away (walking distance), so we go there from time to time still.

Posted by: betabug at May 10,2008 23:40
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