Here is another survival extract from my book Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing, this time listing the general Dos and Don’ts for the Greek wife/ girlfriend/ partner. Hope it helps!
Marriage and Melons
A non-exhaustive list of Dos and Don’ts for the Greek wife:
- Don’t let your Greek man get away with his arrogance – a quick witty retort followed by an offer of food will confuse him to the point that he will realize he is being a plonker but cannot put the blame on you.
- Never let him find this book – he will fear that you have been all too easily influenced by outside forces and may confine you to the kitchen.
- Always be prepared for unexpected guests and remember to offer coffee, tea, ouzo, home-made biscuits/ baklava, (basically all that you have in the house) IMMEDIATELY and then again at every five to ten minute intervals.
- Make sure the house is spotless – a surprise visit from the mother-in-law could knock you down the scale if dust is discovered. If you are clever, you could use your husband’s OCD to help you keep everything immaculate by pretending to clean and then letting him go over it again.
- Never cross your legs in church – it is a sign of disrespect; instead neatly tuck them to one side with your hands folded in your lap. One non-Greek friend was left mortified when, after dutifully attending a Greek Orthodox service with her fiancé, she was ticked off by the priest in front of the whole congregation. She still wears the shame to this day.
- Be sure to kiss any Greek priest on the hand. The Greek Orthodox priests are widely revered and are treated like Royalty. They may look like Father Christmas, but “Ho Ho Ho” they do not.
- Always give up your seat for older relatives, even if you are heavily pregnant, disabled, sleeping or near death.
- A spare rack of lamb ready to roast on the spit should be kept handy at all times.
- Never run out of potatoes – they are the basic ingredient of nearly all Greek food.
- Make sure you own a briki – (a greek coffee-making pot).
- Make sure you know how to make Greek coffee.
- Do ensure that you own a footstall for the in-laws to rest their weary feet.
- Do feign interest when your father-in-law tells you how he escaped to England for the eight-hundredth and twenty-fourth time.
- Do react with enthusiasm when food is offered even if you are dying to pick it all up and throw it against the wall.
- Be seen to enjoy the company of children – a woman who is married to a Greek man and does not like children will be judged as “not normal”.
- Attempt to learn the Greek language if you have not already grasped the basics – even if you are not fluent, it is good to have a general understanding of what the relatives are saying. Because they are probably talking about you.
- Do tone down your intellectual ability at family gatherings – an opinionated, intelligent, well-educated young woman will strike fear into the hearts of the older Greek generation, men and women alike. You don’t want a dead relative on your conscience.
This list is by no means complete, and some Greek families may be more archaic than others, but if in doubt, just do as the other women do. And bring out more food!