August 15th in Oxilithos village

A morning mass in the Oxilithos village, followed by a big table with comfort food, free for everyone. Beef Casserole is served at the fields around the village.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

I arrived at the village on August 14 afternoon. 

It was not hard to find the church. I parked the car at a spot where it would be convenient to spend the night. A spot where no light posts are there to disturb you, but also not too secluded. As soon as I get off, I visit the church to check the place and find the place where 120 pots will be placed to cook the dinner. You could see all the pots stacked in one corner. Next to them, lies the firewood. 

The Evening Mass was not of great interest. I think the most interesting part is at the place where the food will be cooked. Soon, the truck carrying the meat arrives. That was cows cut in half. Members of the local club have gathered to help run the many errands necessary. The meat has to be cut in smaller pieces so that they can be moved. After the meat is moved, it is cut in bite portions with knives or with wood cutting machines. After the meat is cut, it is being washed thoroughly. At the same time, women wash and cut onions and potatoes. 

Luckily, some other people cook for them in a different room, so as soon as they finish preparing the food they can stop and rest with good food and wine. I have hanged around for a long time, so they won't let me go away. 

After I had some good food and plenty of wine (it is not polite to say no when someone treats you in Greece) I went to sleep inside the car, because I had to wake up at dawn. The sleep was O.K. for one night. In the morning I got washed up in a nearby spring. I grab my camera and go to the fires lit nearby. 

The 120 pots are in place and one by one the fires are being lit. I was not prepared for what was about to happen. The place was filled up in smoke. The smoke was that much that I couldn't see nor breathe. The pots had a lot of oil and meat inside, someone had to be there to stir the food so that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Not everybody was able to go near due to the volume of the smoke. The few that did, had made some DIY protection, using wet clothes. I really don't know how they could see, you could even feel your feet were burning if you tried to go near. I told someone that if I came again I would bring along the tear gas mask that I use in strikes. 

The smoke cleared and my work became easier. The sun started to rise. I really liked the morning light, combined with the smoke. A lot of people came along for the Morning Mass and sat to have some food at the nearby fields. They had no idea the work volume put into preparing this food that was being offered for free, by the local church community. 

Going away, I said to someone that I would like to come back, only this time I will be bringing my tear gas mask along. 

#meat #food #cow #cooking #mass #pots #church #fires #religion


August 15th in Oxilithos village

18 Epar.Od. Chanion Avlonariou-Kimis Oxilithos
Kimi, Central Greece, Greece