Sunday, July 8, 2012

John the Baptist aka The Saint Oregano Man

Gather your oregano while you may after his name day (June 24th) and as long as it has ripened fully and you collect it very early in the morning before the first rays of the sun have touched it. This” slight” detail is essential because only in this way does the oregano acquire magical powers. 

This explains why I got up at 5 o’clock this morning and rode my trusty ancient Yamaha 125cc Enduro motorcycle to our olive grove about 9 km due west of Meligalas and spent the next two hours gathering this holy mountain of oregano, which will be cured in the shade, mind you, (or else it will turn black and spoil) before being sprinkled generously on a variety of salads and meat/fish/poultry dishes, as the Greeks have always used it as a food preservative, and it is probably in this role that the pessimistic phrase “Put some oregano on him” is employed metaphorically when someone’s plans start to go from bad to worse. 

NB: It may sound far-fetched to some but included in oregano's magical powers is its ability to heal wounds; believe me—as The Saint Oregano Man is my witness—this claim is definitely not for the birds. Nor is this poem.


  1. I have a stand/stash/clump/bush of Greek Oregano in my back yard....
    nothing quite like it added to my tomato sauces or to any salads & etcs

    mine now have tiny white flowers that the bees just love & suck-up to...

    as medicine ? THANKS...
    I have a patch of that itchy-drive-you-crazy poison ivy on leg just below calf... just went out and got some of that oregano crushed it up a bit in my hands and rubbed it on the itchy cloth ... GUESS WHAT ? NO ITCH !!!

    and for the link to the Seferis poem... those fires along the shore... a sure guide to the ways home.... & other serious rituals.... especially St. John and those cute girls in front of the mirror after jumping over fires ?

  2. No more itch, eh? Now you know what to do when you get the itch to scratch! The Saint Oregano Man never turns away supplicants, especially poets.

  3. All I can say to this infinitely satisfyingly pictured magical herbal moment is -- what crisis?

  4. Crisis? It used to be people would gather only as much oregano as necessary to get their household through to the next year and perhaps to give some bunches as gifts; nowadays too many greedy or maybe even needy ones are gathering much, much more and worse yet digging the oregano up (it's much quicker than using a knife)and selling it.

  5. That's pretty bad.

    Here too a needs-must approach to food gathering increasingly reigns, but at a lower bulge in the Bolge. Out by night it's rare not to see the hunter gatherers circulating like flies around the restaurant trash bins. Anything less that 3-to-5 days old is considered fresh enough to consume... by those who are no longer official "consumers". There's a growing low end poverty sector in the population, and desperation too grows apace. But there will not be a bailout for the poor, more likely, soon enough, a not-so- gradual cull, what with the Sacred Underwear flying its weird colours above the capitol.

  6. By the by Vassilis, that's long been one of my most treasured Seferis poems. Had thought to post it two and a half weeks ago, but superstition -- all the fires here, and the continuing fires in the unhealing head wound -- gave pause.

    Now you've got me reconsidering. Not for the first time, Squire.

  7. "There's a growing low end poverty sector in the population, and desperation too grows apace." Mind you, this is not Greek to many Greeks.

    So much for the glory that was Greece--relegated to the garbage bins of Athens. Wonder what the Seferis of "Wherever I travel, Greece wounds me" would have made of all this.

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