My mind is still boggling at a recent post on another forum: someone complained about a British-run taverna where they apparently offered one slice of lemon with fish and chips, and said extra lemon must be paid for.
How is it possible to live on such a small island and inhabit such different universes? Or for two nationalities to have such different mindsets?
It’s citrus season, for heaven’s sake!
Our lovely neighbours always pass on their surplus, but this year I have been completely overwhelmed with gifts of citrus. I weighed the first bulging carrier for fun (8 kilos) and there have been, I think, five since. Quite often I don’t know the identity of the donor – the bag is just left on the doorstep.
When one of my elderly boyfriends asked in the hearing of the second if I wanted any νεραντζια, No 2 was at the door later that day with enough marmalade oranges to start a cottage industry. I have made as much marmalade as I can be bothered, given that the pantry is still stuffed from the year before last, and as much as I think will be appreciated when I give it away to village friends. (This means the fine shred jelly kind, terribly fiddly to make, because I don’t think the Greek sweet tooth is ready for a quick-cook dark chunky Oxford.)
Marmalade oranges are said to freeze well, but the freezer is groaning. So I’ve juiced them and eaten them as is. I’ve frozen grated rind for flavouring cakes. I’ve made orange mousse and lemon jelly and tangerine sorbet and orange drizzle cake and lemon barley water. And I am still up to my knees in sweet oranges and sour oranges and lemons and mandarinia and the mongrel ones I call lemanges – all straight off the tree and strangers to the waxing and spraying that gives long life to citrus fruit in England, so they won’t keep for very long. I have to try to work out what to do with them all, but as problems go, it’s a sweet one.
Can you imagine trying to explain to Iannis and Iorgos and the rest of my benefactors, every one born with a natural generosity of spirit, that someone who runs a taverna might begrudge one slice of lemon? I don’t think there are the words for it in Cretan.