A taste of childhood bliss

Geek salad

You see I am 20 years younger than my brother and my sister is still 15 years older than me. So I spent most of my childhood alone with my parents, which made me feel very special. This also meant of course following them on every vacation they took. My dad loved to sail, as we all do in the family. In the summer time, my brother would take his girlfriend and charter dad’s boat from La Rochelle in France, its port of registry, all the way down to Athens, Greece. That was his summer vacation. Then mom dad and myself would pick up the boat in Athens and spend two months in the Cyclades, sailing all the way down to Rhodes and sometimes into Turkey. I didn’t like to go to Turkey at the time though. Soldiers with machine guns would come to the boat as soon as we docked to take my dad to fill out paperwork in their little cabins. Very scary for a kid my age.

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One of the best things about these trips, was my dad’s fear of flying. I’ll explain: since flying to Athens was not an option, we would actually drive there from Bordeaux. We took our time driving down to Monaco, then Rome and Naples. We would catch the ferry in Brindisi heading for Patras, then drive down to Athens from there. Once or twice we visited Olympus which was really fun. Mind you, at the time (70s, early 80s) all of the sites were completely open and unmanned which meant you could access everything freely at any time day or night. Very special. We did the whole Greek thing every year from when I was 8 to when I turned 13 or 14. After that, my brother had to purchase a building to open his dentist practice and dad sold the boat to help him out…

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My best memories of Greece are about the people. They are the most generous and kind people you can ever hope to meet. And the food… Oh my god, the food… Incredible seafood (that goes without saying), but also souvlaki and of course the famous Greek Salad. Truly the taste of my childhood!! Pure bliss…

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Summer is finally here, so please try it out:

  1. Real, UNPASTEURIZED feta cheese
  2. Black olives (FROM GREECE!!!)
  3. Cucumber
  4. Organic tomatoes (in season ONLY)
  5. Red onion
  6. Lemon and EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil
  7. Oregano (I use fresh, but dry oregano is perfectly fine). Sometimes I even put thyme…

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I hope to visit Greece again someday. I left a piece of my heart there (I’m such a freaking poet aren’t I?)

Happy summer everyone!!!

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66 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    What a nice reminiscent post, that salad looks the business!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks! I love all things Greek!! Nice of you to drop by John.

  2. What fantastic memories. I love the photos! You were such an adorable child! How lucky you were to be able to travel!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I know! I was very lucky indeed!

  3. What a nice post and photos!

  4. CakePants says:

    Wow!! I absolutely love the old photographs – what wonderful times your vacations seem to have been! Having been to Greece in recent years, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to visit while the sites were unguarded (just seeing the pictures of climbing up near the Parthenon, I hear whistles blowing in my head!)…I truly enjoyed reading this post!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I am so glad you liked the post. Greece is a special place indeed!

  5. Photos pleines de fraîcheur, de soleil et d’insouciance 🙂

  6. andmorefood says:

    such beautiful photos, and I can’t wait till I finally get to go to Greece!

  7. terrepruitt says:

    Oh wow! Such fabulous summers you had. What great experiences. Oh and the famous sites just open like that? Wow. Wow . . . I just keep thinking WOW!

  8. Angeline M says:

    We used to live in Washington, D.C. years ago, and our favorite place was a little Greek restaurant. The Greek salad there is a fond, delicious memory (and maybe the martinis too). I’ll have to try my hand at it in the next couple of days. You’ve left me drooling.

  9. Amanda says:

    What a great post. Very beautiful. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures. Things here are finally warm again and it does bring this sort of sense of nostalgia with it.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m so glad the sun has finally reached your side 🙂

      1. Amanda says:

        Me too, my friend. I don’t want to wait that long again. If I can’t make it to Europe next year I still have a ticket to Mexico. Long winter.

  10. What a lovely post. We spent many a weekend sailing on our lakes. Such fabulous memories. 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, sailing makes all your worries disappear…

  11. Michelle says:

    You took me to the real joy and desire of summer. Thank you!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are most welcome my dear Michelle!

  12. I suspect much of your childhood goes into your cooking — that additional ingredient that makes it so special.

    I love Greek salad, but have to admit it doesn’t taste quite the same when eaten inside as it does when enjoyed outside in the Mediterranean sun.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so right! The same goes with souvlaki. Surroundings are so important when it comes to authenticity of taste and feelings….

  13. Linda Duffin says:

    That brought back lots of memories. I was the youngest in my family too and was holidaying with my parents long after my brother and sister had grown up. But what wonderfully adventurous holidays you had! So lucky.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Truly special times Linda. You are right… until the brother and sister had kids and had my parents babysit for them. Then it became hell! 😉

  14. Lovely post Stephane… full of beautiful memories (and photos) of another time and place!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I wish I could time travel back to the 70s some days. Everything seemed so much sipper and better then…

  15. americanmominbordeaux says:

    What beautiful childhood memories! It always amazes me what we remember about our childhoods. I find it’s often not the facts, but the experiences or the unique fun spontaneous activities. I love to ask my kids from time to time their favorite summer memory (granted they are still young) but it’s always special to see what “sticks in their head” and what they deem as fun! Such a beautiful post and I love your appreciation for all your family experiences. Thanks for the Greek salad recipe – always nice to have a good one one! Enjoy the warm weather!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I am sure a mom like you is an expert at creating memories for her kids. I know how loving and caring and passionate you are J!

  16. Carl Johnson says:

    You are so right. Lettuce does not belong in greek salad.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I don’t even think they have lettuce in Greece… 🙂

  17. chef mimi says:

    What a lovely post Stephane! A great story and such wonderful photos! No wonder you have such joie de vivre!!!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Joie de vivre! It’s all I care about my darling Mimi. God I miss you so much! YOUR joie de vivre is so infectious…

      1. chef mimi says:

        We did really have a wonderful time. I think of it often! I still have the photo book out that I made from my photos.

  18. Jan Molberg says:

    Every thing I love in that salad……what wonderful memories…..and we were all skinny kids at that age…before we fell in love with wine and wonderful food!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I know! It’s so hard to be a foodie sometimes 😉 I’d rather be fat and happy though 🙂

  19. ladyredspecs says:

    Your old holiday snaps are wonderful. I’ve never been to Greece, Turkey yes, Greece no, but having said that, Melbourne has the largest expat Greek community in the world. Many of my friends are Greek- Aussies. My local area has many Greek delis, cafes, cake and fish shops so I the food first hand on almost a daily basis. Your salad is exactly as I like it with lots of lemon juice and black pepper.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so lucky! It’s impossible to find good greek food in France…

  20. talkavino says:

    I have very fond memories of visiting Greece about 14 years ago with my family. Quite honestly, Greek salad is is not the least of them, how fresh everything tasted. And I have to admit that no matter what ingredients I use in US, in season or not, it just doesn’t taste the same… Especially the tomatoes – I don’t know why…

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Hard to find great ingredients I agree. We are pretty lucky on that front here though… Fresh is the right word by the way. I should have used it in the post…

  21. I love the photo’s you were quite the handsome young man and what wonderful adventures. I love that your family travelled often and you were exposed to other countries, cultures and an appreciation of fine food. The salad is one of my all time favorites.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Probably my favorite salad of all times. So simple and healthy and fresh…

  22. Great post and wonderful photos. I holidayed in Greece 3 years ago staying near Kalamata and the local olives I had were like none I’d tasted before – or since!! Wonderful!! The people were so friendly. I’m hoping to return to Greece later this year, it’s beautiful. La Rochelle is great too … have holidayed there as well! Fantastic seafood.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Between La Rochelle and Kalamata, the choice is quite easy though! I’m glad you had the chance to travel to Greece. Aren’t the people the sweetest you’ve ever met?!

  23. anniedm778 says:

    What wonderful photos of your family vacations! I’ve never been to Greece, and only recently visited Europe for the first time. I would love to visit! In the early 70’s I was in college in Florida, but did visit Tarpon Springs, where there is a Greek community and great Greek food.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      We don’t have a big Greek population in France. Too bad! This motivated me to cook all their great dishes myself though…

  24. Enjoyed this post so much Stéphane!! What a sweet little boy you were. Your parents look modern and fun. Now I can understand even better your longlasting feelings for good food and a good life. The importance of views and landscapes. Colours. Savoir vivre.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Yes, my parents are pretty cool 😉 Thanks for your kind comment dear Rosa!

  25. What an amazing childhood. It’s beautiful, too, the appreciation you have for the many gifts your family has given you. Greece is one of the most wonderful places I’ve traveled to as well – can’t wait to go back. Until then, I’ll be trying your salad recipe!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Let me know how you like it! Be careful about the quality and taste of the olives and the feta though!

  26. juliabarrett says:

    Oh so lovely! And you look so wonderfully French! I agree, priceless!

  27. Stéphane, what lovely photos! Thanks for sharing them and a slice of your young(er) life. 🙂 When I was in Greece in the 70’s, I ate souvlaki in all its forms whenever possible and baklava as well. I also had some of the most amazing yogurt ever and saw the biggest lemons I’d ever seen while on Naxos. Yes, the people were lovely and so happy at my few little Greek phrases.

    Have a wonder-filled week!

    janet

  28. pinkagendist says:

    Great pictures. We used to do sailing holidays too when I was a boy (on a 1930’s two masted sailboat). I hated them with a passion. The toilet with the manual pump, the ‘outdoor shower’, the shared sleeping accommodations, and the music equipment we had at the time was awful, the television reception was even worse! The icebox was an actual ice-box with ice in it! The good part was docking and getting on land to go to the restaurants 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh don’t get me started on the freaking toilet pump! 😉 The restaurants were my favorite part too. I must say that the tiny souvlaki eaten by the water in the evening with the smell of eucalyptus trees and the warm wind on my face is a cherished memory…

  29. Steve says:

    A few comments:

    1. I understand you had great experiences there….thank God you were French and not German!

    2. Too bad about the boat being sold, but…..I hope you at least get free dental care from your brother to compensate 🙂

    3. A wonderful place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there….makes French bureaucracy look like banking in the USA. Plus, the Greeks mistreatment of the environment is legendary…getting a little better lately, I’d like to believe, but even 10 years ago in Santorini, we would see people flinging their garbage bags off the cliffs into the caldera, right in front of the tourist hotels. It makes me ashamed to be Greek.

    4. The food is great, built on a foundation of freshness and quality ingredients. But the food one gets in restaurants is typical of what Greeks go out to eat, i.e., grilled stuff (they don’t typically have gas BBQ’s at home). The “magirefta” or “cooked” foods are more typical of what one gets at home, and this is a treasure trove far beyond moussaka and pastitio, which unfortunately is usually inaccessible to visitors.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I agree! We have got to go the Italy and Greece together sometime. You are the only people I’d consider traveling with to such special places! Say hy to your girl for me will you?!

      1. Steve says:

        Funny you should say that….Delia was saying we should take you to Greece. My friend Italo wants to take us for an authentic Italian experience as well. So many terrific places to explore in the “first world”; one could spend several lifetimes and still see next to nothing. Why do I need to go to crime and disease ridden “exotic” places that practice barbaric belief systems based on misogyny and twisted religions. Europe is enough for me in this lifetime. Will see the others when I come back as a cockroach in my next incarnation. 🙂

        1. My French Heaven says:

          I really love your photography. I wish the size of your images was a little (a lot) bigger on your site. Is it because it’s made for the ipad? Anyway, can’t wait to see you again so we can go shoot together!

          1. Steve says:

            The images on the site were from when I used to shoot film in my Leica M, and having them digitized was very expensive at the time, so I chose a lower resolution to save lots of money. Hence, larger images would look quite pixelated. That site needs a serious revamping and I’ll work on it. Yes, we should shoot together! I’m planning to get the new Leica M240 (they just call it the M now) plus a couple of lenses. I foolishly sold all my bodies and lenses a few years ago, and those same lenses are now a fortune! I currently use a Fuji XPro-1 which is a magnificent camera. The XPro-2 should be out soon and rumour has it that it will be full frame. That’s the Leica advantage….you buy it once (and pay very dearly), but the lenses are good forever and can be used on every model from the 1920’s to today!

          2. My French Heaven says:

            You are so lucky to be able to use such incredible tools. If I had the means, I’d buy every single L lens Canon makes… I absolutely love the look of the Leicas. The Rolls of all cameras… Can’t wait to see the great shots you’ll take!

  30. Beautiful memories, exquisite photographs…thanks for taking us on this lovely journey.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so welcome dear Vivian!

  31. Wonderful! And what a lovely, simple recipe. I can taste it!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You should try it Tamara. You’d absolutely love it I’m sure….

  32. These old photos are priceless! Great post! Have a wonderful summer, Stéphane 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You too my dear Maggie! Is it warm enough yet that you can have picnics by the fjord?

      1. Yes! We have beautiful weather.. I can’t remember when it’s been so nice for so long 🙂

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