07 March, 2009

Kathari Deftera

This Monday was Katheri Deutera (or Kathara Deutera), Clean Monday, national holiday for the Greeks. If this name reminded you about the dangerous Mediaeval heretics Cathars, you are linguistically on the right track: Cathars took their name from the Greek adjective for clean - katharos.

This day the Lenten season truly begins. Actually the week preceding to it was Tyrini week, meaning the Orthodox Christians should start fasting except for milk and milk product, but it looks that not many people observe this.

It was a very fine day. The first activity of the day for us was to go to buy lagana (λαγάνα), which is a flat bread with sesame seeds eaten typically on Clean Monday. We went to the neighbourhood bakery I often go. In front of the shop there was this mega lagana, but as it was broken into three, it did not have desired effect.

We bought our stuff and went down to the seaside. This is how the lagana looks like. This year the minimum price for lagana seems to have set at 2.50euro in Athens, but our bakery were selling it for 3euros. It was nice, but not as nice as Hubby had insisted it was.

We bought also half a kilo of kritsinia, kind of bread biscuits. They are all-season stuff, but people eat more during the fasting periods. This one is multi-seeds variety that I like the best.

There were people flying their kites: this is one of the typical things to do on Clean Monday. This hexagonal one is the most typical Greek kite.

These guys had a kite shaped like eagle. Kite is called hartaetos (paper eagle) in Greek.

Then we went to Hubby's parents' house for lunch. Hubby cut lagana into pieces. This lagana is larger than ours.

The main dish was fried karamari. On Katheri Deftera, the Greeks eat kalamari (squids or cuttle fish), octopus, and/or prawns/shrimps. The streets were filled with the smell of frying or grilling these.

On the table there was a halvas - sesame based sweet, again, typically eaten during the Lenten period. I don't like very much sesame halvas and prefer semolina halvas, again typical sweet of the period.

Then we went for coffee with friends and had coffee without milk. There was quite a lot of people abstaining from milk in the cafeteria.

At home, the dinner was octopus. This is one of they typical way the Greeks eat their octopus during the Lent. Octopus is slowly stewed with tomato and when softened, cooked with short tube-shape pasta.

The octopus was soooo good: it was tender and flavourful. It was actually too good for the Lenten table. Some people remove oil from their food. Maybe it is the only way to make the octopus unpalatable.

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