Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING


CONSUMERS’ RIGHTS AND DELIGHTS IN GREECE.                                                                   LIVING , JULY 2008

I have just returned from England ( hence the material on our website is even later than usual…sorry! )

This time, I came away with a niggling dissatisfaction over the whole process of food shopping ,which for me has to be visual and tactile. I need and love to handle, inspect and generally relate to my fruit and vegetables before I buy them. Who needs ‘organically grown’ labels to verify a plant’s growth process when the carrots on offer are hairy and dirty, potatoes are irregularly shaped and tomatoes pitted and pocked?

It is a wonderful experience to overhear locals asking the greengrocer if the pears are Greek and if the answer is “yes”, they are eagerly selected in preference to the imported, more perfect looking ones.

I love the sound of the crackling brown paper when the fresh produce is placed inside them and the coolness of that paper in my arms when I pile them into the car. Plus I am satisfied that the brown paper is less harmful to the environment than the ubiquitous plastic that is used in England.

The proof is in the eating.

There is no comparison to eating Greek tomatoes, which are sweet and succulent, despite their external flaws. When cooking carrots, it is such a joy to observe the water turn orange, due to the presence of natural plant pigments which haven’t been removed by forced growth and medication.

Fruit is truly seasonal.

I can buy delicious mandarins, satsumas,oranges and pears in the winter and then enjoy a plethora of locally grown dusty grapes, deep red, fleshy cherries and the sweetest of peaches during the summer.

I don’t want to have access to pears in the summer and grapes in the winter if they have to be imported and bred to near perfection for the sake of aesthetic beauty and availability.

England, to my mind has lost the plot.

Take the time ten days ago when I wanted to cook a meal for my generous hosts. I had to queue for twenty minutes with a basket full of fruit and veg, all washed, trimmed and snugly packaged in a polystyrene tray, covered in cling-film. Why? Why are you doing this? I wanted to yell to the cashiers and shop managers,  stock -buyers and politicians.

I want to pick out my own items. I want to wash and chop and cook my own food. I want onions to make my eyes stream and I want to pick out slugs from my lettuces. I want tomatoes to taste of tomatoes and not of watery cardboard. I want a relationship with my food and control over my cooking.

I stomped out of that supermarket and visited three more ( there weren’t any small greengrocers in the area) in pursuit of spring onions which were dirty and held together with an elastic band. I finally found some and vowed that in future, I would only shop at that supermarket.

Back in Aegina, I am so grateful and relieved that we still have greengrocers who remain important. I will ensure that I always shop from them so that they don’t become extinct.

As consumers, we have the power to keep small businesses afloat and we are surely foolish to believe that supermarkets always have the cheaper goods. They don’t !

Sometimes I fear that even Aegina might become like little England, as I see tourists  ( and Greeks) emerging from supermarkets with trolleys laden with goods, including fresh produce.

Do we really want malls and plastic to remove us from the real world?

I hope that the Greeks are strong enough to resist change and will focus on what they are good at…family and community life, which surely starts with choosing the food you’ll serve your family and friends!!

 

Alison Lorentzos                                                              copyright 2008

 

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