Try Something New: Bekri Meze

Food, Local Flavor — By Paige Moore on January 25, 2011 at 8:53 am

Nippy outside! Good thing kitchens in Athens are focusing on heavier dishes designed to keep you warm and fluffy through the winter; one of my favorites is Beri meze which, roughly translated, means the plate of the drunkard. It’s prepared according to the individualistic interpretation of the apron-wearer but traditionally consists of pork and sausage, or sausage and beef, or pork and beef, or the whole dang stockyard- drowned in red wine, cinnamon and pepper. According to one cook, it will be soupy; according to another, baked with feta. Look it up on the internet and you’ll read that it comes from “Constaninopolitic” food, or “Politiki” kitchen,  the region of Constantinople -Istanbul to the world outside of Greece- and a culinary tradition that varies slightly from Greek kitchen.

I asked my nationalistic culinary expert, owner of Melilotos, Despina Kouklinou.  “I doubt it!” said she, and went onto say that the name is deceptive in its Turkishness; places like Trikala in the Peloponnese or the island of Kos have been making the recipe since old YiaYia still had her YiaYia who got it from her’s… and on and on.

There’s a joke relevant here: put ten Greeks in a room and come out with eleven opinions, but the ‘yum’ factor of bekri meze is hard to debate. Add beer or red wine and you’re well-armored for the relative cold, but I wouldn’t complain to Greece’s northern European neighbors who would be dancing in their flip-flops for 17° C weather. As it’s a shared dish, be forewarned: there’s always the one guy at the table who not only bogarted the bowl but used  a hunk of village bread to sop the savory remains. Save your friendship; order two portions.

I’ve tried it several places but prefer it at Koutouki near Philoppapou Hill, which has changed its hours according to the season and is now open for lunch from 1-5. Call ahead if you need special arrangements but have a translator on hand: the owner’s flexibility is immeasurable but his English is certainly limited.

+30 210 3453655

Tags: Athens, Bekri Meze, Local dishes, Melilotos, Philoppapou Hill, Politiki Kitchen, winter foods