There are two very special spots in Athens—Monasteraki and Plaka. No doubt you will go to each of these neighborhood markets if you visit Athens. Charm galore. As hectic as this metropolis is, it is also charming. Typically, one might write about the landmarks and incredible shopping in Athens…
but I am going to cover a special custom I l first learned in Athens. PIKILIA. (pronunciation: “peek-ee-leea”) I remember the relaxation at a taverna in Plaka on a hot day with cold Mythos beer and Frescas. Your options are meals, desserts with coffee, or PIKILIA with BEVERAGES!
I first learned the word “PIKILIA” from a new friend we met in Athens on our honeymoon. He had one of the most posh apartments I had seen at the time—with a view of Lecavito on one side and the Acropolis on the other. This artist friend in his chic apartment enjoyed hosting us (the young, casual, Greek American newlyweds)—and in his hospitable way, he announced “Let’s have some pikilia!” and dashed off to his kitchen.
My husband and I looked at each other puzzled. We had never heard this word before. Our friend came back to the table with a beautiful display of what we would call in America “charcuterie” or appetizers. Doesn’t it sound more charming, however, to say “PIKILIA”?….it was like a little tune. I say it all the time. Now, it’s our custom to make a pikilia platter often….whether at home entertaining, or while traveling.
On another tip, we found a deli in Churwalden, Switzerland that had the most amazing jarred delicacies. Cream cheese stuffed peppers! I made a pikilia platter for my family when we were tired of eating schnitzel.
Guess we leaned more towards olives and prosciutto finished off with a little vino. There’s pikilia in Greece, tapas in Spain, antipasto in Italy, hors-d’oeuvres in France and appetizers in America, etc. The love of good food is universal!
My Happy Hour Pikilia at a Cretan Villa
toast with herbs,
drizzled olive oil,
Villa Creta wine and my husband’s frosty mug of Mythos beer.
I chopped up some sage, toasted the bread, fried the Cretan cheese in butter.
I squeezed lemon on it put salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary and wild sage….and olive oil!