Friday, 21 August 2009

Living cheaply in Greece

One aspect of Greek life which never seems to change is the weekly "Laiki" or street market. In every town and city they take place once a week, in larger cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki each district has its street market on a different day of the week. Where I live Friday is market day. From early morning the street is closed to traffic and the farmers and vendors pour in from the country to sell mainly fruit and vegetables. The atmosphere is terrific and the vendors compete among themselves for customers. The earlier you go the better and fresher the choice of goods, the later you go - they stop by 3 p.m. at the latest - the better the chances you have of them lowering their prices.
The street market has a long tradition and today you will see the black clad grandmothers with their little trolleys buying massive amounts of fruit and vegetables. This is because they are shopping not just for themselves but for the whole extended family. So 5 kilos of tomatoes and 10 kilos of potatoes is understandble. Of course, the sensible thing to do is to buy what is in season - now in August it is grapes, peaches, tomatoes, peppers. This is not the time of year to buy broccoli or Brussels sprouts and you would not find them anyway at the street market. You can really live cleaply and pay a minimum for foodstuffs if you shop this way. In summer the tomatoes and peaches, for example, cost next to nothing. And in true Greek fashion you can sample everything before you buy it.

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