1 bowl of Special K vanilla with almonds
El Greco Cafe
side of fries
16 oz. Diet Coke
Contrary to my Asiatic looks, I actually grew up in a predominantly Greek neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. My three closest childhood friends all went to the same Greek Orthodox church and went to Greek school every Saturday to retain their native language skills. Their parents would often watch my brother and I, and that meant a regular serving of Greek food, especially saganaki, or fried cheese. God, that contributed to my overweight childhood and life of cruel teasing. But now I have this blog to finally get my revenge. So fuck you, Billy Kilroy! May your stool be viscous and unnaturally colored tonight.
Anyway, I am almost as particular about Greek food as I am about Korean food, but my choices are slim in Los Angeles. I go to Papa Cristo’s a LOT and that’s about as good a Greek food as I’ve eaten. Since it’s located in Koreatown, it’s like my childhood conveniently crammed into one city block at the intersection of Pico and Normandie. I heard there are some good places down in the Torrance area and San Pedro. Maybe there are, but damn if I ever drive that far. I go to El Greco semi-regularly because it’s 5 minutes from where I live. It’s not that memorable, but their gyros is decent. They give you hefty chunks of lamb instead of the thin slices from the tube o’ meat and it’s pretty tasty.
Most gyros in LA tend to be Middle Eastern, so it’s meat and salad in pita bread with tahini sauce. Or they’re more rustic like Papa Cristo and El Greco. The only place I knew that’s similar to the ones I ate in Chicago was Mama Voula, a defunct Greek restaurant in West LA that was associated with Ulysses Voyage in the Farmer’s Market. In Chicago, a gyros place popped up every 4-5 blocks and I miss the sandwiches I can get there. Grilled pita, parsley-ed onions, tomatos, tzatziki sauce and thin slices of Kronos gyros meat, which is the giant cylindrical tube of ground meat charred over a flame. Kronos isn’t traditionally Greek. It was invented in Chicago in the 1960’s and now accounts for 50% of all gyros meat in the United States. The guy who invented that actually learned it from a sausage-making class at Lane Tech High School, which I attended for two years. Lucky guy, I had to take print shop, where we set types with molten lead (I kid you not) to print newspapers. They don’t offer sausage-making at Lane Tech anymore but still offer print shop, and that’s bullshit. People stopped reading newspapers. They’ll always eat sausages though.
1 foot-long chicken breast sandwich on wheat
1 bottle of water
1 glass of grapefruit juice
1 slice of Kraft American cheese