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For sociology class we were asked to try a new cultural experience different from our own or one that we may have yet to experience. I personally love trying new things, especially variations of authentic cultural food. For example, I have tried many different cultures’ food anywhere from Japanese, Chinese, Italian, American cuisine, to even some Polish dishes. However, I have yet to experience Greek food until the other night. I have always wanted to travel to Greece and try the different food they have, see their beautiful architecture, and crystal-clear blue water.
Sadly, who can afford a spur of the moment trip to Greece for a cultural assignment, although that would be spectacular. Thus, the next best thing in my mind to actually being able to go to Greece is Greek food. For my Greek cultural experience, I went to Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen and Bar. It is a beautiful restaurant in downtown Raleigh with authentic Greek dishes, music, and architecture.
Almost all authentic Greek culture recipes include olive oil and fresh seasonings, and all of their dishes have fresh vegetables accompanying the main dish. To begin, at Taverna Agora for their mezze’s (appetizers) there is a variety of choices to select from, and I chose the hummus to begin my new adventure into Greek culture. The hummus tasted very fresh and I could taste the texture of the extra virgin olive oil it is drizzled with. Also, on the side of the hummus dish is fresh carrots and cucumbers.
As a side note, the hummus has olives on the side which appeared to be rather tasty, however I found out through this experiment that I have yet to acquire the sophisticated taste buds that are required to stomach such a delicacy. Next for the entr?e I ordered their Athenaiko Kotopoulo, which is a chicken dish where the chicken is stuffed with spinach and heavy feta cheese, topped with a tarragon cream sauce. On the side of the stuffed chicken is fresh vegetables and rice. The chicken was rather under cooked compared to the fried chicken or oven baked chicken I am used to at home, however, the tarragon sauce on top has very delicious and unique sweet and savory tastes to it. Almost as though the sauce changes flavor while in you are enjoying it. The vegetables were definitely my favorite part of every dish. Specifically, in the Athenaiko Kotopoulo there were fresh green beans and carrots on the side which with every bite had a clean crisp, mouth watering effect. The clean crisp texture of the vegetables communicated their undeniably freshness which is a key feature in Greeks daily diets. At the end of the meal our server brought over a traditional Baklava dessert because she overheard me talking about how I was trying this new restaurant for a cultural assignment. She said she wanted me to have a well-rounded experience of the Greek food pallet. She explained how Baklava is basically a layered pastry filled with walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. I found the flavoring to be mouthwatering delicious. Overall, the dinner portion of the meal along with the dessert was quite unique to any that I have ever tried before. In addition to the meal, the environment of the Greek restaurant was very energetic and soothing at the same time. Once my friend and I entered Taverna Agora immediately it felt as though we had walked into an entirely different culture. For example, the music playing throughout the restaurant seemed to be genuine Greek music sung in their native language. The music appeared to be very passionate and romantic, however I do not speak Greek, so they could honestly be singing about washing laundry and I would not know the difference. Something unique about how the restaurant played the music is that it was loud enough to hear and drown others’ voices out but also quiet enough to have a personal conversation with my friend without having to shout. Which is a rarity in most other cultural restaurants. Almost instantly after stepping into Taverna Agora I was hit with the smell fresh herbs and a variety of amazing smelling dishes. My friend and I got to sit upstairs on their outside terrace, which overlooks the quiet side of the city. This terrace is covered with greenery, from potted herbs to olive branches. Also, they have these beautiful dark wood pillars outlying the roof of the terrace that are lined with grapevines and olive branches. The decorations in Taverna Agora creates this realistic feeling of being in a little Greek restaurant down the streets of Greece. Which truly further adds to the entire Greek cultural experience. I had no idea how delicious Greek food could be, how romantic and energetic instruments and vocals are in Greek culture, and the atmosphere is extremely inviting as though you are walking into a family member’s home for dinner. Altogether, my first experience with Greek culture, even though only on a surface level was quite romantic and truly enjoyable
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