Saturday, 13 April 2013

The best little souvlaki shop in Corfu

As Greek Easter approaches, about as late as this moveable feast can ever be, the island of Corfu becomes busier with the start of the holiday season.

There are aeroplanes in the sky and cruise ships in the harbour. At first, the island was slow to wake up to these new visitors, who wandered around forlorn because everything seemed to be closed.

But now, there are tables on the pavements outside the tavernas and waiters touting for business.

There are irritating and leggy teenage British girls, singing at the Lidl checkout with mother, their shorts so short you can see the cheeks of their bottoms and probably more if you looked a little closer.

There are sunburnt families wandering around the resorts, amazed the Greeks are still in thick coats and knee-high boots.

There are fake lamb carcasses spinning on spits in the barbecue shop and coaches lining the Spianada.
The streets of old Corfu Town become a language hotch-potch, as the tourists wander aimlessly, past the nick-nack shops selling trinkets made in Vietnam and windows full of icons of saints they will have never heard of.
It is time for lunch so we dive down an alleyway overlooked by a string of Greek flag bunting and clothes on a washing line.
We are heading for an unprepossessing little place, a mere hole in the wall. The tourists don't give it a second glance.
Which is good news for us.

'You must go there,' our neighbour, Spiros, tells us. 'It is the best souvlaki in Corfu.'

'Yes,' says his friend, who is also called Spiros. 'Him very fat man. Yesterday him go to Corfu Towns and have thirty.'

To emphasise his point, he writes the figures 3-0 with his finger on the kafenion table.

'And him have two portion fries.'

This is Greek exaggeration, of course. We know our Spiros does not like chips. But it is quite conceivable he could manage thirty souvlaki in one sitting, although he strongly denies this.

'I have six souvlaki. Them is good. The fat, it makes them taste more better.'

So we sit on one of four tables crammed into this little shop and order feta with olive oil and paprika, which comes with bread, and eight pork souvlaki and two glasses of ouzo. The only other thing on the menu is chips.

Our neighbour is right. They are the tastiest souvlaki in ten years or more of visiting Greece. And we will never know why.

'It is, what you say, a secret,' says a man on the table next to us. 'Every souvlaki different in every place. This is best. I am forty eight and remember I come here as little boy. Always queues and sometimes the people fight.'

He looks around him at the faded decor and, with his foot, shoos two pigeons out of the shop.

'It is always the same, it has not changed.'

He throws a look at Leonidas, who has put his glass of retsina under the counter for safekeeping as he tizzles up yet more souvlaki.
'Except maybe the souvlaki are smaller,' the long-serving customer says with a grin.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


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