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April 12th, 2009

Travel and struggle and betrayal and death. Temptation, seduction, power. I know all of that was in there, but all I ever remember from the Odyssey is food. Droves of animals being slain and cooked over open fires. Mounds of fresh figs dripping with honey and being dropped into Odysseus’ mouth by grateful attendant goddesses. Everything, in fact, dripping with honey. Rich, sweet olive oil being drunk from goblets and used for bathing, I suppose to give the hero sweet and necessary respite from water. Wine glasses refilling themselves. It’s been so many years since I read that grand epic and I hope that any Greek scholars out there will forgive the amendments that my imagination has made to Homer’s record, but those decadent feasts will stay in my fantasies forever.

Walking into Athena, even with a raving recommendation as motivation, I did not expect to be reminded that this was the native cuisine of immortal mythology. The light is garishly bright, it is furnished entirely in white plastic with bright blue detail (the Greek flag, I know, but still there is the question of how) and I supposed that I would get Mediterranean fare that was pretty good, on account of the recommendation.

And now, I think, in lieu of describing what I ate, I will say this: Thank you Athena, goddess of wisdom, for allowing me to believe, for one brief meal, that if I cannot live as the immortal heroes before me lived, at least I can eat like them. Sounds like silly hyperbole, I know it even as I write it, and I guess it probably is, but those words come straight out of the languid torpor I left the restaurant with. Roll your eyes at my childish enthusiasm, then, if you will, but remember that it has a source that you, too, can access.

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