Monday, September 30, 2019

My Family and Other Animals

Just when you've found paradise there is always a catch.  You have to put your number two toilet paper in a bucket because the pipes are too small in Greece. It makes you really appreciate the blessing of the American sewer system. I'm pretty sure it answers to prayer.....please God go down and other such pleas.

The toilet bucket was a deal breaker for the Durrell family in Gerald Durrell's "memoir" of his spending a good part of his childhood in Greece. They immediately had to find a house that did not require the poop bucket. It sets a tone. We are in Greece but we are still British and will not conform to your poop-bucket arrangement. 

Written as a trilogy to fund his own zoo, (he was a lifelong animal enthusiast and possibly unemployable) you actually only need to read the first book. That book is called My Family and Other Animals and the whole trilogy is called The Corfu Trilogy. I think my father-in-law went to Corfu for one of his honeymoons. Yeah, I used the plural. Don't read the last book (or stop before the last two chapters) as it starts to get a little racist at the end. It's always a risk reading a book that is older. I'm pretty sure the BBC special doesn't include that part.

Setting that aside, it's full of humor, fantastic descriptions of Greece, especially the natural surroundings, in an era just before WWII. It is wonderfully idyllic and even though he spent some formative years in Greece, it is also quintessentially British. The mom makes scones in Greece. There are a lot of animals, including a pet owl. Who has a pet owl? Anyway, he takes some artistic licence of his memories and includes only the good things and possibly embarrassing but funny stuff. His oldest brother, who became a professional writer, is a good comedic foil but in real life he was a jerk of the highest order. I will say the taxi driver who becomes the family friend has the best lines. I did some laughing out loud, which is pretty unusual for me. So this book is good for if every day feels like Monday. (Um, again don't read that last chapter of the last book).

I'm going to spare you an ouzo based cocktail and give you a sangria recipe. The family drinks copious amounts of wine anyway. Add 1/2 apple and 1/2 orange chopped with 3 tablespoons brown sugar to 3/4 cups orange juice to 1/3 cup brandy to a large pitcher and muddle. Add one bottle of dry red wine (maybe it's Greek?) and stir.  Add a little ice to chill. Taste and adjust if needed and chill. This makes 4 cups. 

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