Ikijimi my fish?

Greek food is something we enjoy. (In fact there’s not much in the food category that we don’t). And there are of course plenty of Greek fare on offer in Melbourne but we were looking forward to seeing what Greek food is like in Greece. After leaving Dubrovnik, enroute to Santorini, we had a few hours to spare at Athens airport. Since it was past lunchtime, we were getting pretty hungry. (Note: Dubrovnik airport looks newly refurbished but there’s no restaurant here. Other than a café, the only other place we found looks like an employee canteen).

So we could not resist but walked straight into the Olive tree restaurant at the terminal. I know airport food can sometimes be an extension of what you get on the plane. But the place looked inviting and they had gyros on the menu! Peter’s policy so far this entire trip was to order “the local specialty” wherever he went. It was a gamble sometimes but here we thought he will be quite safe.

In hindsight, we probably spoke too soon. Perusing the menu, we found some added notes in small font at the bottom. The note said the bread rolls were frozen. The seafood was frozen and that the meat was also frozen. I wonder if it was meant to point out that the food were kept well and properly refrigerated. Especially when it gets so hot in summer.

But Peter promptly piped up and translated for the rest of us, “So, what they are really saying is, nothing is fresh!!” (yup, Mr. Cup Half Empty he is.)

This got me thinking. Sometimes I wonder if too much information is good on menus. I don’t mind knowing that the fish was ‘line caught’. That makes me think of sustainability. Not to mention the fact that the fish I am having was actually caught with a line and hook! At other times, you read that the wild mushrooms are from the nearby forests. Or the herbs are from the Chef’s garden. Then there are the other times when something just crosses the line. Take this one from Radii restaurant in Melbourne.

“All fish have been spiked using the Japanese Ikijimi method. This puts the fish into an instant sleep and stops the release of adrenalin which will ensure no unwanted fishy smell.”

Really? So the fish was pierced with a spike? Like acupuncture? You mean, the angler got it off the hook and whilst it was still flopping around, Mr Ikijimi needled it in some nerve zone which puts it to sleep? And that is to get rid of the fishy smell? Really??? Now I am thinking too much about the poor sleeping fish that gets cooked. So, when my dish arrives, I have mixed feelings. In fact, I just don’t know how I feel about the whole thing anymore. I don’t even want Mr. Cup Half Empty to point out that at least there’s no fishy smell . . .

( Peter actually did see this done once in a sushi restaurant in Toyama Japan. The chef would scoop a live eel from a tank, place it onto a wooden tray and with almost surgical precision and lightning speed, pierce the back of its head at the base with a sharp spike before proceeding to prepare it for a dish.  )

So, there we were at the Olive restaurant laughing about the menu when our food arrives. Peter’s chicken gyros looked deliciously grilled on skewers. We all start eating when we heard Peter exclaim that his chicken was raw! Sure enough, it looked nicely cooked on the outside but the inside was just plain raw. When he cuts into another piece of chicken on the same skewer, it was raw on the inside as well. They obviously weren’t joking when they said their meats were frozen. To the restaurants credit, the offending dish was quickly replaced. But the damage had already been done. So, our foray into local Greek food didn’t get off to a good start.

Greek Food

All were forgotten when we got served this feast at a restaurant recommended by a local. It was simply YUM!!

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