In my novel What’s Left, Cassia’s family runs a landmark restaurant but realizes many of the Greek dishes they make at home are just too exotic for their clientele in southern Indiana, at least during most of the timespan of the story.
They do add roasted Greek potatoes as an option, but that’s about it.
Well, by the early ’80s, when they have a vegetarian line going, they might add dolmathes, the stuffed grape leaves, or vegetarian stuffed peppers to their offerings, perhaps along with tzatziki, the distinctive cucumber yogurt sauce distinguished by its dill and lemon.
Oh, but how much are the holding back on? Consider these ten options.
Gyro. It’s a yummy handful, a wrap made of warm pita bread filled with strips of seasoned grilled lamb and beef with tzatziki and sliced tomatoes. (No onions on mine, please. They don’t agree with my system.)
Souvlaki. Around here, it’s usually kabobs of char-broiled marinated pork, ordered by the skewer. “Give me two sticks, please,” is the way to order. Rounded out with things like rice pilaf, beans, and Greek salad on the plate. My favorite came from a wood-fired stove at the Common Ground Fair in Maine.
Spanakopita. Or spinach pie, made of filo dough baked with layers of spinach and cheese.
Loukaniko. Greek sausage made with orange peel, too. Great appetizer.
Kolokythokeftedes. A Cretan vegetarian appetizer ball featuring feta cheese. (Feta is big in our house.)
Lamb shank. This slow-baked, savory hunk o’ meat is one of the glories of our local Greek festival. Or, for those who want something a little less messy to eat, the slices of roast lamb are delightful, assuming you like lamb. If not, go for the lemon-pepper roast chicken. (Admittedly, I’m cheating in trying to keep this a Tendril. Just ten dishes? Oh, my, impossible!)
Pastichio. Layers of baked macaroni with cheese and seasoned beef are a common entrees , as is Moussaka, made of layers of baked eggplant, potatoes, and ground beef.
Keftethes. Meatballs. Bet you can’t eat just one.
Baklava. This honey-infused filo is a heavenly dessert, but be warned, it has to be eaten while fresh. That honey can get sticky.
Let’s not overlook Loukoumades. Bite-sized golden puffs of fried dough often sprinkled with syrup, walnuts, and cinnamon are another celestial way to round out the meal. I have heard some heated discussion, though, about whether the next generation can live up to the standards this one requires. The debate can be quite amusing, especially when the stand is being operated by closely supervised children.
While many beatniks despised the hippies who followed on the counterculture trail, the two did have some commonalities.
Here are ten I see.
Alternative living: They both dressed in ways that weren’t socially acceptable, part of their rejection of bourgeois attitudes of American respectability. Hippies, especially, advanced that into group living.
Beards: The beat goatee was signature. Hippies took facial hair in many distinctive directions.
Sandals: On men, especially. Forget the polished wingtips.
Incense: It became a staple of small alternative stores, along with interesting teas like Earl Grey and Gunpowder.
Pot: Jazz musicians were the root for the beats. Having a toke together became a communal expression among hippies.
Free love: Although the birth control pill was approved for public use in 1960, it was still illegal in eight states four years later. Still, it quickly grew in popularity, garnering the condemnation of Pope Paul VI in 1968. Well, if extramarital sex was already taboo, what additional fault would using the contraceptive have? This was having fun while scoffing at conventionality at the same time.
Eastern spirituality: Zen Buddhist and Theosophist influences championed by the beats spread into yoga, Sufism, and other strands of Buddhism in the hippie era.
Pacifism: Opposition to war, though, did not always carry a corresponding nonviolent outlook by hippies, who instead focused their opposition on the military draft and stopping that by any means possible.
Cool: Beatniks liked to “play it cool.” Hippies had their own nuance in preferring to “be cool” as a way of displaying their individuality.
Mass-media caricatures: Both were portrayed negatively in the mass media, usually as warped stereotypes.
While many hippies were profoundly influenced by beatnik writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and their alternative lifestyles, many beatniks were contemptuous of the flowering of the hippie movement.
The term “beatnik” itself was coined by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen on April 2, 1958, after the Russian Sputnik satellite went into orbit. It quickly encapsulated what had been happening since the early part of the decade in the city’s North Beach district.
The word hippie probably springs from the much older word “hipster,” and came to prominence when 100,000 young people from across the country converged on the city for the Summer of Love in 1967.
Here are ten ways the two cultures differed:
Prime time: 1950s and early ’60s, the beats. Late ’60s and early ’70s, the hippies. A half-generation apart. My guess is that unlike beatniks, hippies grew up with television in the house, along with rock ‘n’ roll, and that this influenced the thinking.
Hangouts: Coffee houses and bookstores, especially in San Francisco’s North Shore and Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, for the beats. San Francisco’s Haight-Asbury districts before moving out to communes and college campus fringes, for the hippies.
Philosophical roots: Nonjudgmental, noncombative attitudes influenced by Eastern religions and philosophies, along with nuclear arms opposition, for the beats. Hostility to the military draft and parental control, plus opportunities for sexual freedom, for the hippies.
Personnel: The beats were a much smaller group, primarily poets and essayists, centered on the fine arts and artists themselves. The hippies sprang largely from runaways, initially, and drug experimenters, musicians, war protesters, and laissez-faire independents.
Political orientation: Beatniks eschewed political involvement but did benefit from crucial court decisions, especially involving pornographic expression. Hippies were politically vocal, especially with protests and rallies.
The beat, er, sound: Jazz, primarily, and folk, for the beats. Breakthrough venue: Newport Festival in Rhode Island, starting in 1954. For the hippies, rock and some folk, for the hippies. Breakthrough venue: Woodstock, 1969, as well as the Filmore Auditorium in San Francisco beginning in 1966.
Threads: Dark clothing, usually black with a European look, for the beats. Women went for dark leotards and long, straight dark hair. For the hippies, clothing was anything comfortable, often ratty, drab as well colorfully excessive with occasional global or back-to-the-land historical flavors. Think Gypsy, Native American, even India for influence.
Recreational drugs: Beatnik pot use became widespread among hippies. LSD, though, was definitively hippie. Beats were known for cool. Hippies, for stoned.
Mass media stereotypes: Turtleneck sweaters, bongos, berets, and dark glasses, for the beats. Tie-dye, long hair, headbands, tassels, beads, and bell bottoms, for the hippies. Both usually portrayed in negative light.
Artistic expression: Poetry and novels, the beats. Rock and filmmaking, the hippies. Abstract impressionist painting, the beats. Installation art, performance art, and graffiti, for the hippies.
The early ’70s. The counterculture movement has changed. It’s no longer centered in a handful of big cities or a few isolated communes but is now found across the country, often revolving around college campuses.
Back to the earth. For those who move out into the countryside, the new digs could be perplexing. Most of the hippies came from the city or suburbs, and few knew much about gardening or raising chickens or general household maintenance or even cooking. It could be a steep learning curve.
Intentional households. Settling in with a group living together presents unique problems, even when it’s not a full-fledged commune. Just what are the advantages and disadvantages, anyway?
Friends and housemates. Kenzie arrives in a place where he knows only one person but quickly encounters a host of friendly new faces. And through them, his adventures really take off. Where would he be without them?
Each one is different.
That first full-time job. Learning to cope can be a challenge.
For Kenzie, this arises as Tibetan Buddhism and its daily practice.
Couch surfing. The term hadn’t been coined yet, but here he is, spending many nights in friends’ apartments rather than back at the farm.
His best friend’s collection of drums provides a counterpoint to the narrative. Just listen to how expressive this can be.
Personal healing and growth. Kenzie undergoes a transformation through this time of seeming retreat. He emerges stronger, more caring, and happier, especially.
Defining just exactly makes someone a best friend can be rather elusive. But here’s a stab at it from my end.
That is, someone I can deeply respect and trust. Included would be honesty, confidentiality – a gossip, never, and kindness.
Gentle sense of humor or playfulness.
Mutual interests. There doesn’t have to be a complete overlap, but having activities and causes we undertake together is vital. For me, it’s typically Quaker Meeting or the music we sing together in a choir. Oh, yes, and I can’t overlook reading itself.
Curiosity – and a delight in learning. A desire to understand the world around us also opens my eyes to so much I’d otherwise not know.
Shared friendships and community. If they reject you – or you find them annoying – there’s trouble.
Equal give-and-take over the long haul. Yes, there will be rough stretches where I’ll need to be quite supportive and other times when I’ll be the needy one, but it can’t always be one-sided.
Appropriate tone. I have difficulty being around a loud individual. I prefer a good listener, someone who can also be comfortable with silence.
Generosity and caring. Just look how they treat others for a clue.
Good taste. That is, a touch of class and style – nothing vulgar.
Not too picky. They’re dealing with me, after all.
What qualities would you add to your list? Which ones would you delete?