Preparation / Directions:
1. Steam the cauliflower and green beans separately until both are crisply tender.
2. Arrange the vegetables in a serving dish. Toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and mint. Finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
The first man I ever lived with was Greek to me. Sorry about the pun, but he really was Greek. He was Christos Chadzopoulos, from Alexandropoulos, and he couldn't go home because of Papadopoulos. Really. I met him in Italy and we lived together in a six-floor, Eighteenth Century walk-up for almost a year, but it was bound to be a doomed relationship. Just as I spoke no Greek, he spoke no English. Instead, we spoke Italian to each other. Unfortunately his Italian was better than mine, and if we got into a spat, I would inevitably revert back into my native language and then he into his. This was no way to work out our differences. Heck, we couldn't even understand what our differences were.
Christos was a leftist radical. At least that's the Greek government felt. A few years after George Papadopoulos led his rightist army soldiers in the 1967 coup d'etat, Christos fled the country. Soldiers had come to his mother's house looking to arrest him, giving nothing but vague and unspecified reasons. His long hair, beard and leftist sentiments were probably the basis of those unspecified reasons. He came to settle in Perugia, Italy, which is where we met.
Europe was full of expatriate Greeks at that time. Melina Mercouri, famous for her role in the film Zorba the Greek, was one of many artists who were exiled because of their beliefs. It was not uncommon to hear Greeks involved in animated political arguments in any European bar, restaurant, or, as was the case, in my own living room. I didn't mind these debates, for the Greeks always brought with them the finest olives, feta and breads to fuel their fire. I found what little I could understand of their discussions fascinating, and I spent much time reflecting on the merits of our own political system.
Christos and I eventually split up, but it was a fairly amicable parting. When it came to the distribution of wealth and possessions, he had one favor to ask of me. He wanted the one thing that almost no one in Europe had at that time: the waterbed. At first, I balked at the idea. After all, what would I sleep on? Then I came to my senses, realizing that for little more than the price of postage, I could have another one mailed to me in a cardboard box at a mere moment's notice. And for me, the waterbed did not constitute status. So how could I refuse?
A few years later I spent some time on Mykonos and reflected on how hard it would be to leave your homeland D especially one whose food tasted so good. No wonder Christos' friends were always smuggling out the finest Greek ingredients, ones made not in factories but rather in their own local villages and towns, made by friends and family. This is a dish that Christos made whenever we had fresh mountain mint and deep green, spicy olive oil, foods which are used in many countries, but will forever be Greek to me. As with some of the best dishes in any land, it is a simple recipe that combines a very few ingredients, but they must be ones of good quality. The proportions are general, as the potency of fresh ingredients always varies, so it is best to adjust the seasonings according to your ow