Where French Fries Began
Mark Sanders

The warmer weather signals more than the daffodils around these parts. After a too long winter alternating between nut-shrinking cold (outdoors) and hallucination inducing heat (indoors), thoughts immediately turned to dining al fresco. In my neighborhood that brings to mind one very obvious watering hole and the scene of gastro-intestinal horror distress that my wife and I only dare repeat twice a year max.

It's easy to succumb to the siren song of delicately fried calamari, perfectly warm stuffed grape leaves, flaky spinach pie and those devillishy sublime lemon potatoes. After all, I live in the largest Greek populace outside Athens. If anyone is going to prepare an authentic meal that's head and shoulders above what other towns serve up in a strip mall, this is the place. So I live a little.

A 15 minute (more like 30) wait has become less unusual. They've even added an outdoor "dining space" to accomodate more patrons, though it is kind of like dining on the deck of a generously fluorescent-lit pontoon boat. Luckily, a table opened up indoors, yet it is smack dab in the middle of the service path. We cope. We watch the upwardly mobile European couples down Ouzo and listen to the maffioso bark orders at the owner and his staff.

The innocence continues when we order only appetizers and a half carafe of wine. Every visit we debate over how much food will be just right and we over stretch our belts semi-annually. It's surprising just how much expansion can occur with a meal of fried and oily little plates.

This visit we ate our fair share but the fullness didn't seem so bad. Sure we would like a bag for the leftovers and no we wouldn't like any coffee. Well done. And then the waitress goes to get our mandatory dessert.

Just the thought of the viscous custard with flaky phyllo dough, sprinkled with cinnamon makes the back of my throat tense. I remember that flavor and as always miscalculated since the after-meal sweet is normally optional. Oh I suppose I could refuse but those big brown eyes look so needy. And so I taste and taste again and continue to finish the jiggly/flaky brick. And I won't even tell you what that does to my stomach.

Luckilly we weren't the only people enjoying a night out. There was no dessert left. Darn. Shucks. Oh well.

Now I don't want it to sound like we don't enjoy ourselves or that the food is anything less than superb. After working alone at home day in and day out the bustle of non-english speaking ex-pats is invigorating. And with my new found wasteband freedom maybe it will be a lot less time before returning.