The Corfu Blog by Hilary Paipeti

Meat (or mythical lack of)

With the great 15 August celebration only a month away, and with many Greeks staring penury in the face, no doubt reminiscences of past times will feature in family conversations, like that old chestnut: ‘We only ever ate meat three times a year – Easter, Christmas and the Panayia [15 August – Festival of Assumption of the Virgin].’ Coming from a society where meat was on the plate at nearly every mealtime, we foreigners always were duty bound to feel pity for these flesh-starved folk. I heard the claim constantly from my then sister-in-law, never one to miss a chance to repeat herself at every opportunity.
Then one Sunday I was presented with evidence that the food-martyrs’ picture was perhaps not quite as painted. Beef Pastitsada was on the menu for lunch. The conversation went something like this:
Sister-in-law: ‘Pastisada today! We’ve not had meat for two weeks!’
Me: ‘But we had chicken last Sunday.’
SiL: ‘That’s not meat!
Me: ‘And we had spaghetti with bolonez sauce yesterday.’
SiL: ‘That’s not meat!
Me: ‘And spam for supper a few days ago.’
SiL: ‘That’s not meat!
Me: ‘Don’t forget the salami we eat with nearly every meal.’
SiL: ‘That’s not meat!
Me: ‘And didn’t you make some meatballs last week?’
SiL: ‘That’s not meat!
You get the picture.
So, the evidence suggests that mince, chicken, pork products and so on are not proper meat. Nor is any kind of offal. Takeaway souvlaki is a mere snack. ‘Meat’ is solely large hunks of flesh, preferably of prestigious beef and lamb (I’m not quite sure whether pork qualifies).
Going a further step, it makes you wonder whether the ‘we only ever ate meat three times a year’ victim-claim is a myth; it maybe meant ‘we only every ate beef and lamb flesh three times a year, but other less prestigious animal products nearly every day in between.’

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