• hiawynoram

Pistachio Festival - every September

Sunday dawned with cloudless, pitch-blue skies; what we expect when we come in September. Once again we'd arrived during the September Fistiki or Pistachio Festival (Φιστικι in Greek.) Aegina is said to be and/or widely-known as the island from where come the world's best pistachios, although, of course, there are other places that make the same claim, for eg from around Mount Etna in Sicily, the volcanic soil there being ideal for pistachio-growing. Here, on Aegina, they put up stalls all along the harbour selling pistachios themselves and every product under the sun made with pistachios from pistachio pesto through pistachio ice-cream to pistachio cocktails, as well as Aeginetan honey, ceramics and jewellery. In the evenings, especially on the Saturday nights, are parades, performances and live music that goes on into the wee small hours. For once we forwent the Saturday night high jinks and stayed at home eating Steve's rather sublime chicken dish and playing backgammon. ('We get old, we get old, we will wear the bottoms of our trouser rolled,' etc.) A few days later a woman we talked to said there had never been

as many people present on the Saturday night in her memory so we probably did the right thing staying away from the harbour front. Having said that, one year we saw an enchanting performing procession by young women from the town when they re-enacted some kind of myth of or tribute to Aphaia, goddess of childbirth amongst other things, who cast herself into a fishing net to escape from Minos who was pursuing her lustfully. Her temple stands on the island and is the most complete Doric temple left in the world and stunning to see. Having stayed home for the main night of the festival we did get to witness and hear a wonderful music performance on the Sunday morning in Markellos Square right outside our apartment. The group was - and is as they perform every year - called QUI LOM BO. It is led by a brilliant musician, the instruments are drums and percussion and the music is exciting, ridiculously joyful and, in its unique way, sensational.

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