I took a trip last week. This was no ordinary trip, I was traveling out to the expansive mid-west for an opportunity to see new additions to my family and spend some much needed time relaxing and taking my time to enjoy a new area. By relaxing, I mean I was working in the rain moving large rocks from the woods to a flower bed so that other people can marvel at how beautiful nature is. I needed a reward.
I found this reward in the heart of the magnificent Greek district located in downtown Chicago. For those of you think of only greasy thick pizza when asked about the fine cuisine of the windy city, I dare say you are doing that town an injustice. Chicago is also home to some of the best hot dogs in the nation (even if I get a cross look when I request ketchup) and lesser known except for the locals who pride themselves of the fact, a fantastic Greek district.
The time was 7:30, the place was the Parthenon. When you enter, you are greeted by a boisterous woman who says hello to every new face and leads you to a table which is very close to the surrounding tables, a bad sign? I might have thought so at first. As the night went on, you realized that they were going to fill their walls and the group was to feast together at the sights and sounds presented.
We began with a delicious salad made with feta cheese and anchovies and a crusty bread. This led to a group of eight sharing three bowls of soup, we all tasted the Lentil, the Egg Lemon, and my favorite, the Navy Bean. We made our order, received our wine and little did we know what we had started.
Quick additions were made immediately. A traditional Greek appetizer was brought to us, cheese wrapped in filo dough and lit on fire to the crowds amazement and shouts of "OOPA!". I still don't know what that means. Then the food came. The meals were put in place then immediately moved, portions passed, flavors tested, wine drank, laughter echoed. I had half my meal still on my plate when my body told me, "no mas". Put a fork in me, I was done.
I am not Greek. Not even a little, but for two and a half hours, I was laughing, shouting, drinking the wine, and enjoying the flavors. I drank bitter Greek coffee and tried to read my fortune in the mud (I saw only mud - a bad sign?) I had more cheese than my digestion cared for and still I look back and see that as a high point of the trip. There were many Asians, Indians, Whites, Blacks, and of course the Greeks. They were all enjoying a culture other than their owns. They were all opening their eyes to another world. That's the beauty of life, some people don't have to move rocks for a relative but there heads are still hidden beneath one. See the light. Get out there and learn what someone else has to offer.