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Blog 4: Markets, Wine & Cheese

Markets

I remember walking around the local markets and thinking what a big culture shock this was for me. The walk to the market was an easy one, right in front the hotel we stayed. The food in these markets, has no packaging, no FDA seals, and no nutrition facts. What was in front of you was what you got. It was admirable since we don’t have many shops like this in the US. These markets served various option ranges in their own category. In the fish market there was fresh salmon, sardines, tuna, cod, shrimp, and octopus; the smell, however, was not so fresh. Definitely was a place to breathe through your mouth. Fishermen would usually bring their catch of the day in the early mornings. It was a crazy sight to see the fish propped up ready to sell. One man was cutting the heads of fish with his bare hands and found it silly how engrossed my friends and I were watching him. The meat market had the same concept, except no smell! I am not sure if selling every part of an animal is done in every country but here; the people sold fur, eyes, tongues, feet… you name it! There was a lot of lamb, pork, beef, and chicken; butchers prepared, sold, and packaged the meat for you all in the same spot. The vegetable market was my favorite spot it was directly in front of our hotel and next to some antique shops I had my eye on. The vegetable market had a colorful array of fruits and veggies; we also saw birds since the bird shop was a neighbor to the vegetable market. It was a fun stroll!

Wine

Visiting the winery was one of the activities I was most excited about! I wanted to understand why wine was so popular. When we arrived, we were greeted by two wonderful women who worked there and gave us a tour of the winery walking through every step of how the wine comes from the earth and into a glass. The first step in the complex process was fermentation when the grape juice turned into wine. We walked around where the big tanks were being used, talking about how important the perfect temperature is to maintain during this process. The barrels were huge, it was impressive. After fermentation, the wine is placed in barrels for years to come. The barrel room to me was the coolest spot! There were barrels for as long as the eye could see, there was even a spot in the room where the first-ever tools that were used in this winery were kept. We talked about the aging of wine and how the aging affects the taste. It could be kept in barrels from 2 to 20 years! The last step before the tasting was when we spoke of the bottle and crock. We got to see where the wine was placed into bottles, labeled, and sealed. The process was an exact science, our tour guide said they double cleanse the bottle and use a crock from the trunk of only one specific tree. Afterward, we got to taste the wine! We talked about why wine was swirled and smelled before tasting, it fills up the glass with the aroma, and you “taste” it more. We tried a rose, red and white. My personal favorite was the rose it was the perfect combination of red and white. I left with a great appreciation for wine and understood why wine held so much value in the drinking business. The process to make it is amazing!

Cheese

After our wine tasting we visited the Feta Cheese Producer which was such a delicious experience. The lady who ran the company said it was passed down from her father and now it’s her sister and husband own it. She spoke about her family’s history with the land and how it has done good for many years. She had said the company was made up of about 14 employees, who all held a different title and responsibilities. We ate a delicious home-cooked meal, that had greek salad, cheese pies, a pasta dish that stole the show in my eyes. The cheese and the spreads were all exquisite in their own form. Their hospitality was what made it such a memorable experience for me! During our meal, the owner’s daughter played the piano and truly serenaded us with the beautiful atmosphere and food. Looking back I feel so lucky to have experienced a glimpse of local life in Athens, the quality of the products and the experience with the owner’s family made such an amazing trip.

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