My mind has been in Greece. That’s a bit of a problem since the rest of me is in Australia, but there you go. Perhaps it’s because my latest book is set in Greece (The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife is a Harlequin Presents release in mid May, labelled under the new logo ‘Presents Extra’). Or maybe it’s because my mind wanders to things I like when I’m supposed to be working. Over the years I’ve discovered so many tempting things from Greece.
Greek food – yes – I HAVE to start with food! I hadn’t discovered the joys of Greek food until I made my first visit to that country. Now I’m a fan of most Greek cuisine, from a simple meal of fresh fish washed down with local retsina to the well known souvlakia (skewered lamb), moussaka (layered eggplant with sauce), baked vegetables stuffed with rice, salads etc. My first sight of a Zacharoplasteion or Greek sweet shop stopped me in my tracks. Cases and cases filled with sweet treats. Baklava (filo pastry layered with almonds and walnuts, cinnamon and sugar, soaking in sweet syrup and dusted with crushed pistachios). Nut rolls (similar but in neat little rolls). Kataifi (rolls of stuffed shredded filo pastry in syrup). Plus all sorts of treats made with raisins, nuts, cinnamon and cream. Far too many to describe but Wow!
On the food theme (what, me obsessed?) let’s not forget halvas (a Greek treat made with semolina – sounds dull, but wait till you try it) and loukoumia (the Greek version of Turkish delight). Double yum.
Greek islands – I love the Greek islands. And as there are so many I think trying to see them all might take me a lifetime or more. From Crete with its rugged mountains and prehistoric sites, to Rhodes with its fantastic medieval city. Karpathos where I had the best bread ever, baked in an outdoor oven (sorry, food again), while looking past old fashioned windmills down to the sea. Hydra with its perfect little harbour and Santorini with amazing cliff top views over a volcanic caldera (which some believe to be the source of the Atlantis myth). I have a list of a few others I want to visit. It will take me years...
Greek music – perhaps this is an acquired taste, but I love it. Of course there’s bouzouki music but there’s a lot more too. Did you know there are Greek bagpipes? Personally I like the dance music and Rembetiko (a sort of urban blues).
Ancient Greek jewellery – one of the benefits of being a classics student was that I had to visit the museums in Greece. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re full of boring stone inscriptions. Well, they are, but there are other wondrous things too. Like the gold wreaths made for Philip of Macedon and his family. There’s one of oak leaves and acorns, all solid gold, and so incredibly fine it looks about the thickness of real oak leaves. And in Crete, check out the ancient Minoan jewellery. I particularly enjoyed the seal rings (one of which inspired Stavros’ family ring in The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife). It’s no coincidence that my hero is the head of a fine jewellery house that produces fabulous pieces fit for royalty.
Greek Embroidery – maybe not an obvious choice, but definitely outstanding. I’ve spent happy hours looking at fine needlework produced in different regions of Greece. I've even tried my hand at some and it was worth the effort. For anyone interested in sewing, or just looking at beautiful things, check this out. The Benaki Museum in Athens is an excellent place to start.
Greek monasteries – I could write a whole blog about these alone, but maybe one picture will suffice. Spectacular!
I’m in danger of spending too long here and not returning to the current book I’m supposed to be writing. So, I’ll stop and hope I’ve whetted your appetite for some of Greece’s treasures.
Do you have a favorite goodie from Greece too? Or something you’ve always wanted to see there? Or, have you discovered a treasure somewhere completely different that you’ve visited and want to share with us? (I’m always interested in learning about new places to put on my must visit list!).
Annie’s latest North American release The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife is on sale in shops from late May and is out now at eHarlequin or Amazon. To read an excerpt or enter Annie’s contest to win this latest release and two other new Aussie releases, visit her website.
Annie’s other current release The Billionaire’s Bought Mistress is published in the anthology Mills and Boon Presents... available only in the UK - try Amazon UK