"Chez Stamatakos" by James Prineas Stories from "A Village on Kythera"

Chez Stamatakos  

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George and Maria Stamatakos' cafe-restaurant in Mitata is one of the island's great attractions. George's service and Maria's irresistible laugh - not to mention her delicious village cuisine - draw guests from all corners of Kythera. Of the three cafes in the village, theirs is situated to the left of the other two when viewed from the town square, a location which suits the political leanings of its owners. Greece is split between three political parties and this is mirrored in the cafe culture of Mitata, George and Maria's cafe purportedly representing the staunchly socialist. Purported in that although a copy of Marx's "Das Kapital" indeed takes pride of place in George's modest library, one could safely assume it has never been read, being as it is in German. And, perhaps rather appropriately, it is the only book in the shelf which is upside down. In 1989 a fundamental change took place at George and Maria's restaurant. Now growing a little older, they realised their inability to further offer an extensive menu, and consequently adopted a foolproof service technique: upon seating their guests, whether two or twenty, they save precious time and trouble by disappearing into the kitchen to battle together enough plates of food to feed twice the number. Before the guests have comprehended the system, Maria is already scuttling back and forth with dishes of chip omelettes, tender rabbit in clove sauce, stewed goat and boiled greens, while George has prepared fresh salads of tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese - all of which, he reports, are home-grown and home-made. This no-one doubts, despite the many plant pots on the wall separating the restaurant from the garden which look very much like converted Dutch feta canisters.
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The food now laid out in abundance, the guests decide amongst themselves which of the dishes they might have ordered had they been given the choice, and then settle down to a grand meal. When some uninitiated guests enter and naively attempt to order a meal of their own choice, George patiently hears the strangers out, and then promptly brings them that which they would have received anyway, had they acted in the jolly communist spirit of "you get what you're given."
George Stamatakos' prized possession is his vintage AMI jukebox. Its mysterious form stands at the front of the restaurant, shrouded by a yellowing sheet, patiently waiting to assail the unsuspecting. Just when one thinks one has enjoyed a peaceful evening, George marches up to the fat contoured box which, relieved of its veil, resembles an upright boiled lolly. He jabs five well-worn buttons on the control panel and turns the volume right up for maximum enjoyment. The "Tzuk Mpoks", as George fondly refers to it, boasts a fine repertoire of fifty Greek hit songs from 1966. Almost all remain barely tested, as the owner is the exclusive operator, and he only plays his five favourite songs, the preference for which has not altered in living memory. While it plays, George Stamatakos stands straight and motionless by the machine, like a soldier beside his sentry post, smiling knowingly at the deafened yet well-fed guests.
"Good? Good?" he screams at the cringing faces.
"Good!" they shout back.

Cover | Introduction | Tarzan's Boots | Charlotte's Tail | Chez Stamatakos
Yanni Sklavos | Koula Entertains | Photo Gallery

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