“Wednesday & Sunday is the Farmer’s Market,” told me residents of Tripoli, in Arcadia. Regional loyalty is strong. “We are Arcadians, where the Greek nation began and spread out.” Being with the Greeks of the provinces restored my faith that Hellenism will survive. Our path through city streets in June took us pass a school with happy children playing. We followed the path of persons leaving with bags at Plateia Basiakou. Streets lined with oranges, cherries, tomatoes, apples, melons in season were sold from 11/2 euros a kilo (2.2 lbs.). In U.S. currency it is $1.20 to $1.75 for 2.2 lbs. of fruits and foods. These prices are more than 50% less than supermarket prices.
Wednesday was fish day. Multiple stands of small fish were on sale. The fish were bloody with bright eyes showing they had just been caught. Vendors were cleaning porgies and sardines for clients. We clean fish the old-fashion way with a scissors and hands. Customs remain the same. The sardines for 3 euros and porgies for 7 ½ per kilo were sold.
The prices of vegetables were amazing. A few Greeks told me oranges are not picked from the trees in Southern Peloponnese because of European Union restrictions. Oranges sold for .40 euros, about 20 cents a pound. In the U.S., we buy squash without flowers on the stem. Greeks buy squash with flowers and stuff them with herbal rice. The prices for fruits and vegetables included: string beans 11/2 e. (euros), ripe tomatoes ½ a euro, apricots 11/2 e. and other fresh items. Displays of olives with homemade pressed olive oil were numerous.
Arcadian eggplants were offered, probably from South Kynouria. These eggplants are sweeter than other varieties due to the soil micro-climate. The most delicious eggplants in Greece come from Arcadia. The Tsakonian eggplant of Leonidio has been recognized by the European Union as “Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
Red and Golden Delicious apples are authentic and famous from Tripoli. The apples that day were from Lithovounia for 60 e. The Arcadian earth produces this variety with a protective status.
A linen vendor was telling clients “these are the best prices” with colorful aprons and bolts of fabrics on tables. I found linen prices in Athens Plaka competitive. Many Tripoli residents have apartments in Athens. They stay there in the winter for culture events, shopping and jobs. Another resident believes “utilities for the home are cheaper in Athens.”
Tripolis is the heart of Arcadia. The
Arcadian land produces everything. Small climatic differences grow different varieties and a taste not seen anywhere else. Lithovouni also produces delicate garlic. The Arcadian gastronomy is organic. This gastronomical tradition is experienced by the tourist through the excellent culinary skills of restaurant and taverns.1
Many are returning to the villages to work on the land, that is a rugged and hard labor. This is the new trend. In the urban center work has vanished. Going back to the land where they have good food and a livelihood is their hope. Many educated persons grow, and transport their good to Athens establishments for the tourists who want authentic and not European Union mandated imports. Greeks are determined to keep their land in the face of Western and Eastern exploitation, rewriting of school books to exclude the 400 years of slavery under the Ottoman Empire because of political correctness, refugee immigration that will change the Church/State status and even the symbol of the cross on the national flag.
Many of the consumers on Wednesday were senior citizens. The young are working. The grandparents engage in shopping, taking care of children and the home. Sounds like our American society.In this time when money is tight, the average Greek can live well by shopping at the Farmer’s Market.