The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir

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9780743247719: The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir

The story of a man in love with a place, a woman, and a dream.
Tom Stone went to Greece one summer to write a novel -- and stayed twenty-two years. On Patmos, he fell in love with Danielle, a beautiful French painter. His novel completed and sold, he decided to stay a little longer.
Seven idyllic years later, they left Patmos for Crete. When a Patmian friend Theológos called and offered him a summer partnership in his beach tavérna, The Beautiful Helen, Stone jumped at the chance -- much to the dismay of his wife, who cautioned him not to forget the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts.
Her warning was well-founded: when back on Patmos, Stone quickly discovered that he was no longer a friend or patron but a competitor. He learned hard lessons about the Greeks' skill at bargaining and business while reluctantly coming to the realization that Theológos's offer of a partnership was indeed a Trojan horse.
Featuring Stone's recipes, including his own Chicken Retsina and the ultimate moussaka, The Summer of My Greek Tavérna is as much a love story as it is the grand, humorous, and sometimes bittersweet adventures of an American pursuing his dreams in a foreign land, a modern-day innocent abroad.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Tom Stone was a Broadway stage manager and assistant director for ten years before he moved to Greece. He now lives in Santa Monica, California. Please visit the author's website at www.tomstonestaverna.com

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

from Appetizers

God's Word

The phone rang just as I was about to leave home and trudge through the raw Cretan winter to my tutoring job. The school where I worked was half a mile away, housed in a gray concrete building in the modern part of Rethymnon, along the highway just outside the old city gates. It was a private establishment, a cluster of shabby rooms on the building's second floor, where my Greek colleagues and I would spend each late afternoon and evening teaching English as a Foreign Language. Our pupils were mostly listless civil servants looking to move up the pay scale and high school students hoping for careers as guides, bank clerks, and tourist police. The pay was minimal, and the blackboards sprayed with so many layers of pale green paint that writing on them was often like trying to use chalk on the side of a cargo ship.

My wife, Danielle, answered the phone and called me in out of the rain. When I walked into the living room, she was holding the receiver in one hand and a delicate, shimmering sheet of gold leaf in the other. The gold leaf was for a Byzantine icon she was painting, one of a line of copies she hoped to sell to local tourist shops. Eight-and-a-half years before, when we met on the island of Patmos, she had been doing the same thing, a temporary measure on the way to realizing her dream of creating her own work. Now that we had two children to support, she was back at it again, just as I was learning to teach instead of working on a new novel. She had seemed able to easily accept this, shrugging it off with typical French stoicism. American that I was, I was still struggling, even at forty-two, to believe that downsizing my dreams and taking on a steady job again was a good thing.

She pressed the mouthpiece against her upper arm. "It's Theológos."

In a corner of the living room our two towheaded children -- Sara, six, and Matt, going on two -- were playing with the cat, sitting next to the cast-iron stove we huddled around in the afternoons and evenings while waiting for heat to drift down to us from the distant mildewed ceiling. When we had rented this apartment in the old city -- four cavernous rooms on the second floor of a crumbling, marble-porticoed, seventeenth-century Venetian mansion -- we thought it was a steal. Now, in our second winter in Rethymnon, we knew who had done the stealing, and that it was the landlord, not us.

"Theológos?" I asked.

"From Patmos. Livádi."

I looked at her with surprise. Although we had lived in the Patmos farming valley of Livádi winter and summer for more than seven years, buying and restoring a house there, the last people we ever expected to hear from again were its inhabitants. Even more insular than other Patmians, they referred to the people from its port, five miles away, as xéni, foreigners. They also regarded the telephone as a useful but dangerously extravagant device and rarely used it, particularly long distance.

"O Ladós?" I said, using his nickname -- a necessity on Patmos, where it seemed that half the men were named either Theológos or Ioánnis (for short, "Yánnis") in honor of St. John the Theologian, Ághios Ioánnis O Theológos. It was on Patmos that John had received the visions that were set down in the Book of Revelations, in Greek, ee Apokálypsi -- the Apocalypse. Theh-ós means God, and lógos word or reason; thus, theológos -- theologian or God's word.

Danielle nodded.

Theológos owned a ramshackle but thriving restaurant on Livádi Beach. Not really a restaurant, but what the Greeks call a tavérna -- smaller and less expensive than a regular restaurant (estiatórion) and usually family-run. When I first arrived on the island, it had been called Ee Oráya Eléni (The Beautiful Helen), but a year later, Eléni, his wife, left him, taking their daughter with her, and Theológos cut down the tree outside and changed the name to Ee Oráya Théa -- The Beautiful View -- which it certainly had. Sitting on the road that ran parallel to the sea, it looked through a cluster of tamarisk trees to a sand-and-pebble beach and a wide, curving bay where brightly painted fishing boats -- caïques -- bobbed upon the shifting, glittering waters. In the distance rose the graceful slopes of Hiliomódi, a small offshore island used by goatherders. Beyond that could be seen the shadowy shapes of other islands in the Dodecanese and, in the sharp light of winter, even the amaranthine undulations of the Turkish coast forty miles away.

Danielle handed me the phone and went back to her table, delicately applying the gold leaf to the surface of the icon she was working on. She was thirty-two and her body, even in a bulky winter sweater and after two children, was as slim as a twenty-year-old's. As she bent over the icon, her auburn hair fell across her face, and her fine French cheekbones, sloe eyes, and slightly aquiline nose were taut with concentration. The children had inherited their blond hair from the Scandinavian side of my family, but the beautiful delicacy of their features was entirely their mother's.

"Theológo!" I said into the telephone, using the Greek form of address in which the final "s" is cut off. "How are you?!"

Theológos wasn't much for small talk. An ex-merchant seaman, a capitánios, he claimed, who had meandered all over the world, he now liked to get straight to the point. Particularly long distance. So as soon as he heard my voice, he weighed anchor and set sail, hardly giving me a chance to say hello.

"Thomá!" he shouted, trumpeting the Greek version of my name all the way from Patmos. "Listen! You want to rent my tavérna this summer?"

Theológos. God's word.

The Beautiful Helen

"Thomá, are you there?" He was still on the line, waiting for me to answer, his voice crackling and faint. In bad winter weather, there was a constant possibility of being cut off, particularly when calling from one island to another. "Thomá, listen! The man from Athens -- the one who rented it two years ago? -- wants it again, but I thought of you. Always you told me, if you had my tavérna. Remember?"

I remembered. His offer had instantly conjured up visions of The Beautiful Helen (I was unable to imagine it with any other name), which now beguilingly arose in my mind's eye like glittering Aphrodite shining from the sea. I remembered those early summer mornings seated at a table by the beach sipping a Greek coffee, breathing in the smell of the tamarisk trees and listening to the soft slap of waves against the side of a caïque; the lazy oregano-scented lunches, after which Danielle and I would go back to our house to take a nap within the wonderful coolness of our thick-walled farmhouse and, with the children asleep, perhaps make love; and those evenings when the outside world narrowed down to the few yards illuminated by the tavérna's lights and that mad exhilaration, which the Greeks call kéfi, descended upon the gathering like a tongue of fire...

The Beautiful Helen was one of those restaurants you come across in Greece and sit in and absolutely know that you can do a better job of running than its present owner. Put some bamboo here and there, soft lighting for the evening, install better toilets, get yourself a couple of waiters who care about what they're doing, whip up some interesting recipes, and most of all, serve the food hot. The location will take care of the rest.

So, a few years before, when Theológos had begun leasing out his place for the season rather than suffer through what was becoming an increasing crush of tourists, I started saying, "You should rent it to me!"

This had been an idle request. Though I was a dedicated amateur cook and had worked in a restaurant once before, my offer was often also fueled by an excess of retsina and kéfi. Theológos himself had known this, and laughed along with me. Now, however, he was taking me seriously.

I looked at my watch. I could afford perhaps another five minutes before my trudge to the tutoring school would have to become a dash.

Out of curiosity, I asked, "How much?"

This immediately got Danielle's attention.

There was a pause before Theológos answered. "The man from Athens offered three hundred fifty thousand," he said. "For you, I can make it three hundred thousand drachmas, but no less."

About seven thousand dollars.

"Theológo, even if I wanted to, I don't have that kind of money."

Danielle stared at me.

"I thought you sold your house," said Theológos.

This caught me off guard. "Where did you hear that?"

"Eémay Patmiótis! I'm a Patmian! Everybody knows everybody else's business here. You sold your house, yes? To the Dutch doctor whose daughter wants it for her dowry?"

Amazing.

"Yes," I replied. "But," I lied, "we still haven't been paid. And we're planning to put the money away for the children. For their future. College..."

Now even the kids were listening. At least Sara was, while Matt just sat there happily trying to pull the fur off the cat's back.

"Ah! Well, then..." Theológos answered, raking in his chips.

Friends of mine who owned restaurants on the island of Mykonos had told me they made enough money in one summer to last them the entire year. And at that moment, they were probably spending the winter in Paris or New York, seeing the shows, eating at the best restaurants, while I...

"Theológo, wait. Let me think it over."

Danielle now began to look more than a little alarmed. I couldn't blame her. She knew I had a genetic predisposition, inherited from my late father, an architect and real estate developer in Washington, D.C., for formulating grandiose projects. While this tendency had brought me to Greece in the first place and had eve...

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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Descripción SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2003. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.The place was Patmos, the tiny Greek island where St.John received the apocalyptic vision recorded in the Book of Revelations and Tom Stone wrote his first novel. The woman was a French painter, his wife, Danielle. The dream was to return there for one last summer with Danielle and their two young children. A telephone call from a Patmian friend, Theologos, offered Stone the opportunity to go into partnership in his restaurant, a beach taverna named The Beautiful Helen. He jumped at the chance, much to the dismay of his wife, who wisely believed in the old adage about not trusting Greeks bearing gifts. No longer a tourist, Stone quickly learned hard lessons about Greek skills at bargaining and their use of the Evil Eye. Not only did he struggle to run a restaurant that closed at three a.m. and opened for fishermen at seven, he was also forced to come to the painful realisation that Theologos was cheating him out of thousands of dollars. Yet there were many joys: the beauty of the island, the friendships with both the natives and foreigners he had come to know over the years, the yachts that arrived from Mykonos for dinner and the support of his family. Nº de ref. de la librería AAV9780743247719

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Descripción SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2003. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. The place was Patmos, the tiny Greek island where St.John received the apocalyptic vision recorded in the Book of Revelations and Tom Stone wrote his first novel. The woman was a French painter, his wife, Danielle. The dream was to return there for one last summer with Danielle and their two young children. A telephone call from a Patmian friend, Theologos, offered Stone the opportunity to go into partnership in his restaurant, a beach taverna named The Beautiful Helen. He jumped at the chance, much to the dismay of his wife, who wisely believed in the old adage about not trusting Greeks bearing gifts. No longer a tourist, Stone quickly learned hard lessons about Greek skills at bargaining and their use of the Evil Eye. Not only did he struggle to run a restaurant that closed at three a.m. and opened for fishermen at seven, he was also forced to come to the painful realisation that Theologos was cheating him out of thousands of dollars. Yet there were many joys: the beauty of the island, the friendships with both the natives and foreigners he had come to know over the years, the yachts that arrived from Mykonos for dinner and the support of his family. Nº de ref. de la librería AAV9780743247719

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Descripción Simon & Schuster. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. 272 pages. Dimensions: 8.3in. x 5.5in. x 0.7in.The story of a man in love with a place, a woman, and a dream. Tom Stone went to Greece one summer to write a novel -- and stayed twenty-two years. On Patmos, he fell in love with Danielle, a beautiful French painter. His novel completed and sold, he decided to stay a little longer. Seven idyllic years later, they left Patmos for Crete. When a Patmian friend Theolgos called and offered him a summer partnership in his beach tavrna, The Beautiful Helen, Stone jumped at the chance -- much to the dismay of his wife, who cautioned him not to forget the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts. Her warning was well-founded: when back on Patmos, Stone quickly discovered that he was no longer a friend or patron but a competitor. He learned hard lessons about the Greeks skill at bargaining and business while reluctantly coming to the realization that Theolgoss offer of a partnership was indeed a Trojan horse. Featuring Stones recipes, including his own Chicken Retsina and the ultimate moussaka, The Summer of My Greek Tavrna is as much a love story as it is the grand, humorous, and sometimes bittersweet adventures of an American pursuing his dreams in a foreign land, a modern-day innocent abroad. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780743247719

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