How to piss off a Greek!

How to piss off a Greek!

It’s not difficult to piss off a Greek. They may appear to be laid back but beneath the loud yet smooth talking exterior often lies a bubbling volcano ready to erupt at any moment.

Recently I came across an article on a site called Matador Network – entitled How to Piss of a Greek. Naturally I was attracted to the post immediately and managed to track down the genius who wrote it, Joanna Kalafatis. It seems that Joanna and I have much in common (obviously!) and you can pop over to her travel blog Lose the Map to check out her other work. 

So here is what Joanna recommends if you are wondering how to get a Greek’s knickers in a twist: (I’ve added my own notes in italic):

1. Be super picky about food.
If you ask a Greek taverna owner about gluten-free vegan options, that’s probably the first time he’s heard those words. I know it’s hard to adjust, but try to do some research beforehand on local dishes you can order (there are plenty) that will fulfill your requirements. We have good food; just eat it already.

Bonus tip: if you order a rare steak in Greece, people will look at you like you asked for a live cow on the table so you could slaughter it yourself. People who eat rare steaks are one step removed from cannibals in our eyes. We take our meat well done for the most part, so at least shoot for medium on your order — trust us, it will taste great.

I have only one thing to add – WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T EAT NO MEAT??!!

2. Take Germany’s side on…anything.
We have never had a great relationship with Germany (WWII and all), and the latest financial problems and austerity measures haven’t exactly helped heal things. So if you’re talking about politics, soccer, and everything in between, defending Germany in absolutely anything is the quickest way to make a table full of Greeks angrily turn and glare at you before the yelling starts.

Turkey should be included here. Ask a Greek-Cypriot if they are Turkish-Cypriot and you can guarantee the plates will fly. 

3. Show you don’t understand the difference between modern and ancient Greece.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re immensely proud of our heritage and will take special care to point out all the things/concepts our ancestors came up with. But I’ve had ‘well-educated’ people in the US ask me if we worship the Olympian gods or live in mini-Parthenons. Seriously? Come on, people. We do actually exist in the 21st century.

I second this. Someone once asked me if I believed in Zeus… To learn more about all the Greek myths and legends why not check out my book Theseus & the Mother-in-Law

4. Say you hate Athens after spending a total of 24 hours in tourist traps there.
If you don’t like Athens after spending some time exploring the city, that’s your opinion and that’s fine. Just don’t declare yourself an expert on Athens because you rushed through the Acropolis and the tourist-filled Monastiraki flea market in 12 hours — because, obviously you’ve seen all there is to see in a city of more than 3 million people, and you know that every last part of it sucks.

I’ve also heard complaints from visitors to Athens because, as mentioned in the previous point, some tourists apparently expected to find a trapped-in-amber version of ancient Greece, with temples everywhere and people discussing philosophy. Instead they found a modern city. We have our historic sites, but we also have a lot of working-class neighborhoods, motorcycles, traffic, some graffiti, and actual contemporary people walking around. Because, again, we’re in the 21st century. All clear now?

And don’t ever diss the Acropolis! 

5. Display zero ability to handle your liquor.
Tourism is a huge part of the economy in Greece, but there is a definite love-hate relationship with our visitors. A lot of the annoyance comes from the fact that some tourists will come to Greece and treat the country like a frat house, leaving chunks of vomit in the streets and trashing our bars. So please, don’t get drunk and then boast on Facebook that you threw up next to the Parthenon. And don’t be that group of drunk, sunburned foreigners who start screaming and fighting in the streets at 1 AM, while the bars are full of Greeks who are just starting their night and can’t really, nor do they want to, deal with your sh*t.

Remember, you may be on vacation, but you’re in someone else’s establishment and on other peoples’ streets. We do still use these places after you leave, so be respectful.

Yiayia would not be pleased! 

6. Call us lazy.
I don’t know how many times we need to disprove this stereotype. Every recent survey has shown that Greeks work more hours than anyone in Europe and the US (we’re just under Korea for hours of work per week). Just because we also place a high value on our social circles and leisure time, which is why we’ll sit for a three hour coffee with our friends whenever we get a little time off, doesn’t mean we’re lazy. It means making time for our friends and family is important to us.

Siestas are also incredibly important. We need our strength for the all night plate-smashing. 

7. Say we deserved the crisis.
This is more about being a decent human being. If you want to spout your own opinion on the crisis, fine. I’m sure those two articles you read online pretty much make you an expert.

But please don’t say the Greek people deserved it, especially TO a Greek. The person you’re talking to may have lost their job, their pension, or their home thanks to the crisis. If not, they definitely have family members and friends who have, and they themselves are probably struggling to stay financially afloat as well. Most Greeks were working hard and just going about their daily lives when the economy was destroyed, so telling them they deserved to lose everything is deeply insulting.

Hear hear! 

8. Repeatedly refuse food as a guest in someone’s house.
Hypothetical situation: you get invited into a Greek person’s home for a gathering, and repeatedly refuse to eat anything, no matter if you’re truly not hungry or if you are just trying to be polite. Food is a very social thing in Greece, so what you’re basically saying to your host is:
“I don’t trust your cooking skills” and “I don’t really want to socialize with you or anyone else in this house after you were kind enough to invite me.”

You have been warned. 

9. Butcher our pronunciations.
When ordering gyro, please pronounce it “yi-ro” instead of “ja-i-ro”. The latter pronunciation physically hurts our ears. Also, we know we have long names that are hard for you to say. But don’t comment on how “weird” they are or say “Papaspirodopolopoulos or whatever”. It’s dismissive and offensive. Trust me, Chad, Courtney, and Kaitlyn sound just as funny pronounced in Greek as our names do to you. The accent doesn’t have to be 100% perfect; just try your best, and don’t make any rude comments.

Read all about Greek pronunciations here

10. Assume we work in a diner. (Restaurant)
This is an attitude a lot of Greeks living abroad encounter. You may be surprised to find out that working in a diner is not actually a mandatory part of a Greek’s life cycle. Yes, many diners in New York are/were owned by Greeks at some point, but we have other jobs as well. In fact, MOST of us have other jobs.

And let’s face it, Greeks do make excellent waiters – have you seen the amount of plates we can carry?! 

11. Imply there is a better summer destination than Greece.
You are so wrong. There isn’t. And if you actually think so, please keep it to yourself.

Damn straight. 

So there you go. Of course there are hundreds more ways to get a Greek riled up – I’d get my father to make a list but he’s far too angry at the mo after someone just told him they preferred Spain to Greece…

Opa!

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16 Comments

  1. Eowana Jordan
    29th April 2016 / 2:07 pm

    Yassoo!!! It DOES hurt our ears to hear JI RO.. ouch ouch..

  2. 9th June 2015 / 7:26 am

    That was great, I loved it. As they used to say about my very lovely former manager from Cyprus, she floated like a butterfly and stung like a rottweiler!

  3. 30th May 2015 / 12:59 pm

    If you are polite to a Greek he will give you all he has,if you are rude or uptight you will here all greek “bad words” in one sentence.I offered to assist a Scandinavian family in finding the street of their hotel in the map as I was passing by next to them and they were looking at me as if I was an alien.It is in our nature to help others and we still gather around someone lying on the sidewalk to see if he needs any kind of attention.

  4. 30th May 2015 / 2:47 am

    To be fair on the Greek gods and goddesses thing, I’ve long maintained that most polytheistic religions make far more sense than any of the Abrahamic religions; so, if you claimed to worship Zeus or Athena, that’d make more sense than God or Allah in my eyes.

    *Shrugs*

    Also, I love meat, but rare is how I eat beef. Consider me a cannibal all the way, baby. There’s no going back to even medium for me, though if we’re considering authentic Greek dishes IN Greece, I might make an exception. My Mom also has Celiac disease (she physically can’t eat gluten, rather than most people’s voluntary dietary choices), so thanks for the research advice.

    — TCP/TRB

    • 30th May 2015 / 1:01 pm

      My sister is gluten intolerant as well – my Greek in laws still can’t understand it!

  5. katinavaselopulos
    29th May 2015 / 7:59 pm

    I had fun reading, and I am Greek.
    I can imagine how non-Greeks would feel.

  6. 29th May 2015 / 4:09 pm

    This is a great article. Made me laugh. I particularly like point 8 about the hassle of refusing food, or trying to refuse mountains of food on a plate especially when it’s things like whole pickled birds with heads on, as I found to my grief in the Mani region. Greeks are masters of this form of extreme hospitality, as I would describe it, even though their hearts are always in the right place. I would refuse a plate of hearts as well. Always!

  7. 29th May 2015 / 3:12 pm

    Always wanted to visit Greece. And when I do I promise to respect your rules completely.

  8. 29th May 2015 / 11:15 am

    Lol. Yep I’ll second or third the fact that you just don’t EVER tell a Greek you don’t eat meat.

    Some of these definitely hit a raw nerve when mentioned but at least we can laugh at ourselves a little.

    Yia sou,
    Efthalia

  9. 29th May 2015 / 9:35 am

    Excellent article made me laugh out loud, AND it’s all so true. Bravo Joanna and Ekaterina.

    • 29th May 2015 / 9:39 am

      Haha knew I’d have your support Chris! 😉

  10. 29th May 2015 / 9:09 am

    Thank you so much for these cultural tips. They’ll come in handy when I travel. I especially appreciate the part about hospitality. People seem to not have learned manners where they grew up, for some reason. x

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