A Dinner in Delphi

After college I was traveling with one of my room-mates. In Greece we made a pilgrimage to what is now the small town of Delphi. This area was once the home of the ancient oracle.

In a history class we had learned about a military leader consulting the oracle, who told him, with reference to an upcoming g battle, “there will be a great victory.” The general was delighted until, when defeated, he realized the victory belonged to his enemy.

Reading further in our guidebook, we found that in a small restaurant in Greece, it is expected that tourists may go into the kitchen and point to the food they want. Hunting for a place open in the out-of-season town, we strode into the kitchen and found a woman at the stove. We lifted lids, pointed, tried our tourist Greek, and retuned to the room where people ate. The only other diner was a white-haired man sitting alone.

We enjoyed the meal, but were a little puzzled to see the elderly man leave not by the front door but by a door that led into the back. It dawned on us that we had entered not a restaurant, but a private home. This realization was confirmed by the absence of menus .

We were embarrassed of course, said an effusive “efkaristo,” and tried to indicate that we’d return with a gift. The woman seemed to appreciate when we rubbed our stomachs and smiled nervously. We had learned about Greek hospitality.

Instead of having the wit to pay the hospitality forward, the next morning at market we bought a large Dutch cheese. When we delivered it, the woman was surprised to see us, as we had been to realize we had entered her home.

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