Reid Bramblett - Travel Writer

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Delphi Dinner

One of the most confusing and interesting adventures that comes up time and again when traveling in a different country is trying to find food. Let me amend that: trying to find edible, somewhat tasty, and readily identifiable food.

Another adventure involves those pesky border crossings, passport difficulties, and attempts to explain the Bill of Rights in a foreign language from behind bars. But that has nothing to do with food.

I seem to visit a lot of sausage-intensive countries, places where the word "cholesterol" has not yet been translated into a native term, and 'Lite' beer would be seen as close enough to water as makes no odds, so they reach for the vodka. I go to countries where they have invented 237 ways to ingest pig parts, and 114 Easy-to-Prepare sheep dishes to fall back on. Some Eastern European countries have more kinds of sausages than Alaskans have words for snow.

But, being more taste-oriented than health-wise, I have no problem with all this. Well, okay. I will admit to picking out globules of fat larger than I could comfortably swallow from Prague sausages. But other than that, I'll cheerfully gulp down things that cause my arteries to scream in pain and my stomach lining threaten to file for divorce. But only if I know what it is I'm eating. I am a stickler about that rule, and it is here I run into some problems.

Take an evening in Delphi, Greece for instance. Finding a restaurant was easy — the town only has two roads. Translating the menu; that was hard. Fortunately, my friend Frances and I were saved by our waiter.

He was a very nice guy who spoke English with a great Greek accent. He was exercising this accent flamboyantly on the only other two customers there, advising them on everything from travel plans to the soup of the day.

Once we got his attention over to our table, I had him translate the entrée section of the menu. At least I assume it was the entrée section. I was probably pointing at the restaurant's address and the waiter was just humoring me.

We worked on an item-by-item basis. I would point at a random dish (or maybe zip code) and try to sound out the Greek. The waiter would laugh good-naturedly at my attempts in a way that said "How horribly you butcher my native tongue! You probably learned to read Greek from all the fraternity letters at college!" Well that may be true, but Frances, who had been a Classics major and supposedly could form whole sentences in Greek, was not being much help. Her defense was that, due to the nature of Greek literature, the only vocabulary she knew had to do with either sailing or war. So it was up to me (unless we went for a type of seafood cited in The Odyssey).

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