The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir
14 journalers for this copy...
"The humorous and sometimes bittersweet story of a man in love with a place, a woman and a dream - part memoir, part travelogue with recipes - for fans of Frances Mayes and Peter Mayle. The place was Patmos, the tiny Greek island where St.John received the apocalyptic vision recorded in the Book of Revelations and Tom Stone wrote his first novel. The woman was a French painter, his wife, Danielle. The dream was to return there for one last summer with Danielle and their two young children. A telephone call from a Patmian friend, Theologos, offered Stone the opportunity to go into partnership in his restaurant, a beach taverna named The Beautiful Helen. He jumped at the chance, much to the dismay of his wife, who wisely believed in the old adage about not trusting Greeks bearing gifts. No longer a tourist, Stone quickly learned hard lessons about Greek skills at bargaining and their use of the Evil Eye. Not only did he struggle to run a restaurant that closed at three a.m. and opened for fishermen at seven, he was also forced to come to the painful realisation that Theologos was cheating him out of thousands of dollars. Yet there were many joys: the beauty of the island, the friendships with both the natives and foreigners he had come to know over the years, the yachts that arrived from Mykonos for dinner and the support of his family."
Very evocative descriptions of the Greek island of Patmos and some interesting insights into the Greek way of life. However, Stone comes over as rather naive in his dealings with the locals. The events took place many years ago and I suspect Stone was inspired by the current success of the travel writing genre - he admits that he got the idea in an airport bookstore.
The way Stone ended the narrative part of the book was mean-spirited, in my opinion, and detracted somewhat from my overall enjoyment.
maggiemo UK<--book here 10th May
back to Triggerfish
I only visited Patmos for a day while we were staying on Kos but it was a lovely experience. We hailed a taxi to take us up to the Monastery and what a hair raising drive it was! Why do Greeks take their hands off the wheel while they are driving and talking? Any way, the taxi driver dropped us off at the Grotto on the way up and recommended we spend half an hour there. When we offered to pay he refused, saying he would return. He did and dropped us off at the Monastery setting a time to pick us up again and again he wouldn't take any money. True to his word he appeared at the set time and took us back down to the port. He charged us some meagre amount and drove off smiling. That's Greece for you - I love it.
I will post the book to Kerriou when I have the address and thank you Triggerfish for letting me share your book. xxx
Arrived this morning. As I've just finished my last book, I'll start reading this one tonight and pass it on within a few days.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. A nice, easy read with lovely descriptions of Patmos which made me feel like packing up and moving to Greece.
Posted off to Tregossip this morning.
I managed the first third - then skimmed the rest as I lost interest.
Pity, as this book could have had a lot more substance. Appreciating the events took place some years ago I was left with the feeling this is one of those travelogues better done by others.
Liked the historical and literature inclusions.
Recipes OK but Chicken Curry?
Patmos is a Greek Island I've not visited - I'd love to - but not neccessarily Mr Stones' Patmos
ready to post on once got next address
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on it's travels again
Having been to Crete and Rethymnon in the past year it helped to picture the settings in both Crete and Patmos and made me long for blue skies and sunshine!
Thanks for sharing and letting me try a new author. I have an address for Okyrhoe and will get this book in the post in the post to her on Monday.
Edited 07/01/08: Been tucked up in bed today with a cold so it will be Wednesday before I can get to the post office - Sorry about that.
I found this to be an honest memoir, and anyone who has been to the Greek isles knows how bare and simple the life is. It is not easy to create a dense and complex narrative with the scarcity of raw materials a writer has to work with. If there was more I would have accused Tom Stone of being florid with his prose, as other better-known travel writers have a tendency to indulge in.
Also, I found his descriptions of the Greek characters, and the motivations of each person, right on the mark. In my mind I could conjure up similar figures I have met on my visits to my ancestral village in rural Greece. And in the city I have a neighbor who is the spitting image of the grande dame "Mrs. Busset" (and yes, my neighbor also is an Egyptiotissa!).
If there is one thing I clench my teeth for when reading books about Greece by non-Greeks, it is the 'obligation' these writers feel they must quote from the classics (Homer, Sophocles, Euripides) and Cavafy & Kazantzakis from the moderns. I expected that Tom Stone, being a man of the arts and having spent so many years in the country, would have familiarized himself with additional sources. ...Papadiamantis, at the very least.
I don't mind the inclusion of the steak au poivre, curry and carbonara recipes, as tavernas in touristy areas tend to have a foreign dish or two on the menu (pizza, spaghetti bolognese, hamburger, bon filet) in addition to the Greek fare.
Youvarlakia Avgolemono is as homestyle Greek as you can get, and I also recommend a meal menu consisting of Keftedakia, Tzatziki, Horta, and Tiganites Patates (fried potatoes, best cooked in olive oil, of course!). You can replace the Keftedakia with deepfried whitebait or tiny sardines, a grilled pork chop, or simply an omelet. The combination of a meat/fish plate plus fried potatoes, Horta and Tzatziki is classic.
Will send forward as soon as I have the details from the next person in line. ---> SENT on 20 of March 2008
Felt a bit sorry for him in the end, but he was a little naive over the money side of things.
I have lellie's address & will send this on as soon as I can get out the house (had my wisdom teeth out yesterday & am feeling a little the worse for wear!)
Thanks to Triggerfish for sharing & Fiellu for sending it on.
I'll get to it as soon as possible.
I have a very good Greek gfriend who owns a taverna on Corfu. She runs the kitchen and when I am there I occasionally join her for a gossip whilst prepping veg for the lunchtime menu. All I can say is don't believe Mr Stone when he says that finding a good moussaka in a regular Greek restaurant is like looking for the lost city of Atlantis I have watched Eleni prepare her moussaka countless times and he she fiddled about like he did with his moussaka they would never get anything out to the punters. Her moussaka is first class and in my experience she is not unusual.
Oh yes By the way I do know how to pronounce moussaka, and find it a bit condescending to be told how to pronounce anything by an American. (apologies to all my many friends in the US).
Will be posting on as soon as I have an address.
I posted this to maggiemo about a week ago, hope it's not got lost :(
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Naah! I'm afraid I found this self indulgent and the author very irritating. Didn't think much of the recipes either.
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Left on the OBCZ shelf.
If you are a new bookcrosser - welcome! Please enjoy this book and leave a journal entry to let previous readers know what you thought.
I'll leave this on the OBCZ if nobody wants this at the May meetup.
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Picked up by Rainbow 3 in Aberdeen and wild released whilst on vacation in Orkney.
Left in the Ladies Restroom at the Community Centre Cafe at te Fossil Museum.