Iffy Foods and Iffy Booze: Kreas kai Bomba

Meat

Here is where I get into trouble yet again for telling it like it is. Everybody who reads my food and wine pages knows I always recommend eating where the Greeks eat and avoiding fancy places which in my opinion are not part of real traditional Greek Culture. It doesnt matter where you eat, you cant escape it.

The problems of imported meat aren't quite so easy to spot/avoid and unless you are in the country side with local meat from pigs, sheep and the occasional cow you really cant be sure where that meat has been imported from. The Greek Media is full of reports of meats labeled as domestic being in reality imported from places with chronic problems like Belgium where they often adulterate the meat by feeding it weird stuff including grain containing dried beef bones and entrails or even worse. So what is a red blooded meat eater to do? Eat Chicken? Even that, with this avian flu business is an iffy proposition but it hasn't stopped me yet. Its best to keep your eyes and ears open and decide on the spot if you think the food is safe which 99% of the time it will be. Just another thing to ineffectually worry about like mad cow disease.

Booze

The Greeks have this thing called "Bomba". Bomba is locally distilled moonshine type alcohol like Vodka, Scotch, Gin and what have you that's then poured into empty bottles of higher quality liquor and then sold as the real thing at the corresponding higher price. I used to scoff at 'Bomba' since I quit drinking but many of my friends haven't. The problem of Bomba isn't just in Athens, its all over Greece like in Santorini and Mykonos and other hot spots too. So be careful when you order a high quality cocktail and try and make sure its the real thing.

The authorities raided some bars in Athens 2005 and found that over 30% of them were serving Bomba along with other infractions of the code like not giving receipts.