There’s no mistaking the smell of olives: we’re definitely in Greece. In a few minutes we’ll be at the heart of the Athens Central Market, on Athinas Street.
You can just let your senses lead you and you’ll know where to go. The senses of smell and sight, for sure, but also hearing. The place is lively and vendors try to grab your attention any way they can.
After the rows of olives (of every colour and size!), fruits, vegetables, spices, beans, and mountains of sausages, we push deep into the core of the market. Inside, the atmosphere changes radically.
The stalls are laden with chickens and animal carcasses, the latter not always identifiable at first glance. A hog’s head suspended above a row of pork chops attracts my attention. I draw near while my travel companions snoop around the stalls displaying sheep in all their nudity. For a fleeting second it looks to me like the animal is winking. Too many oregano chips? Note to self: stop eating unusual-flavoured junk food, effective immediately.
On my way to the fish and seafood section, my attention is drawn to a tub filled with pieces that are, let’s say, ‘unusual’ in size and colour (a tad too much brown, too soft, too many mouths…oh! an eye!). Until…
No, this time I’m not seeing things. It’s really the three little pigs lined up in front of me. Or rather, what’s left of them: nicely shaped legs, and I’m not referring to a pair of legs that you’d find in a fashion magazine. Rather, these ones are short and fat, the type that would excite any grandmotherly pork-stew enthusiast (can you really eat hooves?). I scurry away, but not without first getting a shot of the scene with my iPhone. (I’ll never eat oregano chips again, I’ll never eat oregano chips again…).
I immediately feel more comfortable amid the cuttlefish, in spite of the knife that I find stuck in the tub, and the very black ink (ink blood?). I resist the temptation to sink my teeth into the squid and scampi that I see along the way (it’s the weaning from the chips). Starfish, crabs, and fish of all types smile stupidly in my face. There’s no doubt about it, happiness lies in the ocean; at least in its fruits.
I meet up with the others, who had already gotten far ahead of me. I’m back to the reassuring smell of olives. The cauliflowers. The nice red tomatoes.
And, a few steps further, the big bad wolf, feasting on oregano chips.
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