Sep 18 2007

So what DO your lumberjacks eat?

Published by at 5:32 pm under Crete,Greece

Tonight marked another failed supermarket outing. Sometime this afternoon, Brittany and I decided that we had grown weary of one pasta night after another, and that we’d like to have pancakes for dinner. Pancakes would be cheap and simple to make, they’d remind us of home, and we’d make enough to have the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow. Thinking ourselves clever, we looked up the necessary ingredients online, and then I was off to the supermarket, list in hand:

Baking Powder
Pancake Syrup

I was a little concerned about the baking powder, and whether or not I’d be able to recognize enough Greek letters to know baking powder when I saw it. But in a rare turn of events, I quickly began finding all the items on my shopping list with little trouble. The baking powder turned out to be identified in English on the can, which allowed me to snag the first 4 of my 5 items in about two minutes. Reflecting back on my first attempt at the Greek supermarket, I became quite proud at my own progress.

And just as so many Greek poets have written, hubris was my fatal flaw.

I did not consider that pancake syrup might be a difficult item to find in a Greek supermarket until the moment I scratched milk off my list and looked back up. What would pancake syrup even be shelved next to here? The grape jelly? The grape liquor? The grape vegetable oil? A quick jog up and down each potentially promising aisle revealed nothing resembling pancake syrup. Undeterred, I approached the butcher and inquired,

“Parakalo, mipos milate Anglika?” (“Please, do you speak English?”)

Many Greeks will answer this question with “a leetle,” which statistically has no bearing on whether or not they actually speak any English at all. But in this case, the butcher’s answer was a throaty grunt, followed by him walking away and into a storeroom. My translation guide isn’t entirely clear on this point, but I believe that his answer translates to:

“Good morrow, sir, and thank you for the inquiry. As it were, I do not in fact speak English, and I will now kindly take your leave.”

It was right about then that it struck me: even if I were able to find an English-speaking Greek in this store, what are the odds they will have ever heard of “pancake syrup?” Or pancakes, for that matter? Do maple trees even grow in Greece? Despite all my initial success, I began to doubt the likelihood of returning home as the pancake bearer after all.

It’s times like these when true champions reach into their sleeves and pull out one final Ace. Not two days before, I had ordered an ice cream sundae at a cafe, and I now recalled from the Greek/English menu that it was topped with “sirop chocolate.” Heartened, I approached an employee stocking an endcap, and asked in my broken Greek:

“Parakalo, o sirop?” (“Please, the syrup?”)

This was, of course, accompanied by the requisite exaggerated gesticulations that I seem to have adopted whenever attempting to speak Greek. At first, I saw only confusion in her eyes. Then, a glint of recognition. Success? She led me down the aisle and pointed at exactly what I’d asked for: Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

And now I’m sitting in my kitchen, waiting for Brittany to get home, and trying to formulate a convincing argument that what she really would like for dinner is pancakes with Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

NEXT: Three Dub: Where everybody knows your name »



6 responses so far

6 Responses to “So what DO your lumberjacks eat?”

  1. Geneon 18 Sep 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Hi Ben. I like your idea. I would suggest one thing. Rather than regular flour, not sure what they have there for flour, pick up some spelt flour which is an ancient grain dating back to somewhere between 2500 to 4000 BC, or give a take a week or two.

    Spelt is less complex than regular wheat flour and tastes great. I use it all the time.

    Jam works good also on pancakes. Or brown sugar and grape juice.


  2. Gary, Sandi, Olivia, Diannaon 18 Sep 2007 at 9:19 pm

    We are on our way to the Post Office to Fed Ex some Mrs. Butterworth’s your way! Ha! Ha! We are thoroughly enjoying hearing from you and learning about your adventures. Stay safe and stay out of cool places so those pokeyman nipples don’t give you any trouble! We love you.

  3. Hollyon 19 Sep 2007 at 7:28 am

    I think what those pancakes need is some honey.

  4. Benon 19 Sep 2007 at 9:15 am

    Hello G,S,O,D! :) Good to hear from you. I’m glad to report that the pokey man-nipples are under control. I’ll be looking for that package of syrup… And for Holly’s super soaker by the way.

  5. Ryanon 20 Sep 2007 at 10:44 am

    Dude, you’re in Greece!

    I’m positive that they have honey ;)

    Why not try for French toast? eggs, bread and powdered sugar ;) fast, cheap and easy!

    I’m living vacariously through you my Kumbari!

    -Ryan Connelly-

    PS, holding the forum down without you isn’t the same :(

  6. Benon 21 Sep 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Yia sou, Ryan! I don’t even know what a Kumbari is yet (I know like 11 Greek words) but I will take it mean a wonderful animal like the kri-kri.

    French Toast is an awesome idea! I just yelled it to Brittany, and now she’s all excited about it. So it looks like French Toast will soon be on our menu.

    Great to hear from you by the way! Keep on keepin it real at CC…

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