There’s nothing like traveling – especially to the Mediterranean – to remind you to slow down and enjoy eating.
For many, this will not be groundbreaking.
In fact, plenty of people already enjoy food on a daily basis, never feeling the need to go overseas for it.
I am not one of those people.
That’s not to say that I went to Greece to learn to appreciate food – it wasn’t even on my radar. But eating there has literally transformed me.
Up until this trip, my relationship with food was that it was something to address when I was hungry. That was the only time I really thought about it at all.
I viewed hunger much like a nagging parent – a predictable, yet bothersome occurrence that always required my attention at the most inopportune times.
Really, it was more of an inconvenience than anything, constantly inserting itself into my day as if to say: “So, what are we going to do about this?”
Whenever it struck, I was its prisoner.
To give you some background on what typical dining looks like for me, it is generally a hurried, to-go type affair…
I usually grab some yogurt for breakfast (and often eat it in the car), pick up whatever’s easy for lunch, and painstakingly decide whether to waste precious hours slaving over a hot stove or grab something quick yet again for dinner. The idea of enjoying a meal never plays into the equation so much as finding something that’s quick, easy, and cheap.
And then, Greece happened.
In Greece, meals are meant to be savored, not scarfed down while watching Netflix. They’re carefully prepared and served in a relaxed, yet purposeful manner.
Literally everything tastes fresh. The olive oil is so pure you could bathe in the stuff. I wanted to renounce every restaurant chain and fast food establishment I had ever given my money to.
Servers take great pride in providing quality. They are not concerned with turning tables. The focus is on happier customers, not more of them.
They really invest time into getting you excited about their dishes. When you sit down, they form a partnership with you – you are there to enjoy, they are there to deliver. The very act of setting the food down in front of you is a freakin’ art.
And the servers would never ask you how the food is before you’ve even taken your first bite just so they can check it off their to-do list.
They give you time to relax, savor, and form a legit opinion of the dish. Then they check on you to make sure it’s good enough. To ensure that you find it pleasing. To see if there’s anything else they can do to make your experience better.
And the bill?
If you want that, you need to ask for it when you’re good and ready. To give it to you before then would be presumptuous and rude.
Once you do get the bill, it’s accompanied by complimentary shots. Yes, really. There are actual shots of free alcohol. Just because.
The sheer beauty of it all made me misty-eyed. Is that what I had been missing in my life?
It was all in such stark contrast to the normal procedure of eating in the states.
In fact, in Greece, there was nothing procedural about it. The Greek dining experience flows as naturally as the wine, and I left each tasting feeling enriched and fulfilled. (And generally seeking out more of the unbelievable olive oil.)
It was very refreshing, albeit foreign, to experience this shift in pace. I felt as though something was awakening within me.
Could I be becoming…an actual foodie?
Not a chance. Not me.
Lo and behold, it’s our last day in paradise and what happens?
The girl who never thinks about food (and even resents its existence at times) insists on bringing home not just one, but two bottles of Greek olive oil. (After all, how could I possibly be expected to choose between the spicy Cretan variety and its sweeter Kalimata sister?) Oh, and a jar of Greek honey. I’m basically spoiled rotten now.
Since returning to “normal life,” I have not viewed food the same. I am transitioning from viewing food as a chore to food as an experience.
Will this new me stick around? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
As for right now, I’m interested to see how this continues to unfold as I explore more of the Mediterranean. Stay tuned!
To all my other non-foodies out there (if you exist), have you ever had a life-changing experience with international food?