Friday, March 10, 2017

10 of 31: When the Flames of Saganaki Refuse to Go Out

*Warning - do not try this at home!*

So I belong to a few clubs: 3 professional book clubs, 1 fun book club, 1 investment club, and 1 dinner club to be precise. Though this keeps my calendar quite full, I'm usually able to juggle meetings without incident.

Until last night. One of my professional book clubs was scheduled to meet at a little Greek restaurnat called Ari's. As fortune would have it, this was the exact location, date, and time my investment club was meeting as well.

In earnest, when I realized both club meetings coincided, I was conflicted. I briefly fancied myself stealthy enough to split time between the two meetings, but immediately dismissed that notion as an act of sheer folly. Ultimately, my book club took precedence. I took a little needling from my investment club friends, but they supported my choice.

So, when our waiter, the same goatee-sporting waiter who always takes such good care of my investment group, arrived at our table to take our order, I eagerly requested the Saganaki. For those of you who have not yet had the culinary pleasure of tasting Saganaki, I highly encourage you to do so. There is nothing like flaming cheese. Literally. Saganaki is presented to the table in a dish cradling two ample sized triangles of lightly fried Greek cheese, which is then doused with alcohol and lit with a flaming flourish and a bellowing "Opa" from the waiter who then allows the flames to burn for several seconds much to the amusement and sometimes astonishment of its intended recipients. It is delicious.

Last night as the flames burned, our waiter moved to pick up a thick slice of lemon to squeeze over the cheese. Not only to add a bright citrus flavor, but more so to extinguish the flames. He confidently went to grab the lemon and it slipped from his hands and fell promptly to the floor. He quickly reached for the other chunk of lemon and began squeezing heartily. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough juice to tame the flames, and the cheese continued to burn. His discomfort was evident as he contemplated his present dilemma. My eyebrows rose as I looked around the table at the five glowing faces surrounding me before returning my attention back to our waiter only to catch the slightest puff of his cheeks. Surely he will not blow on it as if extinguishing the candles on his birthday cake. He quickly composed himself realizing I might not appreciate his spit all over my cheese. By this point, I was doubled over belly laughing. He bounced from foot to foot awaiting the alcohol to burn off so that he could rid himself of the Saganaki that stubbornly refused to go out.

Finally, to his total and utter relief, the flames sputtered down like a Coleman camp stove running out of propane, and he gently placed the Saganaki in front of me. I thanked him profusely through another fit of giggles and he quickly retreated to the kitchen, but not before sheepishly bending down to retrieve the lemon wedge that had betrayed him.

Luckily, the rest of the evening was flame-free and full of rich discussion.


  1. I totally read this with a goofy smile on my face while resting between tabata sets at the gym! I must confess, flaming cheese sounds MUCH better than my workout does! I love the last line about sheepishly retrieving the lemon...another great slice!

  2. We had dinner last Saturday in Chicago's Greektown. There was lots of saganaki bursting into flames! It's a big flame -- if you're close you really feel the heat! Your book club sounds like a fun time. I'll have to suggest something similar to my book club.