A Trip to McDonald's
I walked into MacDonald's, ordered a Big Mac cheeseburger, paid for it, ate it and forgot it in 5 minutes. My body grew a bit fatter. Once I was in Greece and got a hunger. It was 3 AM. It was summer, Lindos before the tourist mobs found it, warm. A few of us had been together on the beach sharing wine and ouzo and whatever was at hand, including food and love. We'd consume what there was to consume and I was hungry. Again. Someone said, "Well, let's go to Alexi's." Are you crazy? He's asleep. It's three in the morning. "No, he's an old friend. The restaurant may be closed, but for customers, Alexi is always open. I've been there before,” one of the local Greek boys said. We were Italians, Americans and a couple of locals. So we stirred from the sand. The fire was out. Two or three of us ran into the water to watch the phosphorescence of St. Paul's Bay sparkle as we moved. Then we sloshed to the open boat anchored a few yards out where the hillside joined the beach. Boat motors have an angry little buzz, a bit like a horsefly who you fear will take a chunk out of you for his dinner. This motor had the usual sound, but it got lost in the night. At last, about 20 minutes later we came to the long, lonesome beach where Alexi had his restaurant. It was straight, clean, and deserted. In fact, even during the day it was pretty much like that except at lunchtime and in the evening when people came to eat at Alexi's. But that was not exactly a crowd and Alexi scrambled to stay alive. His "friend" jumped out first into knee deep water. "ALEXI!" he yelled. "ALEXI! FOOD, FOOD, FISH, FISH!!!!" We all tumbled out of the boat, getting wet to keep the heat down, then walked up the sandy rise. A light came on inside the ramshackle hut Alexi called home. The door squeaked open and the gas lamp preceded Alexi's head out the door. Driven by excitement or hunger or just the spirit of good times we jabbered away and Alexi, seeing our number, in fact we ended up being eight, agreed with matching enthusiasm to feed us. Yes, there was fresh fish. His wife would prepare salads. She came out, smiling as she always did. They were just as much "beach bums" as we were, but to them it was home. In no time, we could hear the sound of frying, bowls of hummos, tadziki, tarama, appeared, alongside the salads, fresh Greek bread and jugs of Demestikos white wine and retsina - the standard summer drinks. The sweet aromas of grilled fish came out of the kitchen. When it was all served the flavors and aromatics drowned out the Greek music of the loudspeakers. The smells of thyme and rosemary, oregano and the food itself were a symphony of this peasant feast. Yesterday it had all been in the ground or the sea. The calamari were fried to crisp, yet tender perfection, the feta was very unlike what comes out of Wisconsin today. It was the pleasure of food, the usefullness of nutrition that had made the human species delight in going to the table forever. Alexi had struck again. He and his wife soon joined us and given that he had caught the fish and the salad had mostly come from his garden beyond the beach made it a profitable time for them to wake and work. About an hour and a half after our arrival the sun began to crack the dark of night and we straggled back across the sand to the boat, and home, and bed. McDonald's never saw me again.