June 20, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Cretan “melaka” is not jargon

Perhaps the most common slang and abusive word among the Greeks, expressing annoyance or disgust towards the interlocutor, is “malaka”. But it also has a completely different meaning.

Translated from Greek, μαλακός means “soft”, and “melaka” (or “tiromalama”) is the famous soft cheese for which Western Crete is famous. It is especially good in Chania and is made from goat and sheep milk. Although it is enjoyed all year round, it is a particularly popular dish during Easter. As the Cretans say, “melaka smells like a holiday.”

Melaka is an unripe graviera, soft and very tender. It is good in a wide variety of dishes:

  • in small kalitsuni pies,
  • in the form of saganaki – fried in a frying pan,
  • in Haniot meat pies,
  • in various salads.

When making pizza, chefs often use malaka instead of mozzarella to give the Italian dish a “Cretan” flavor. The Cretans cordially recommend: “If you’re in Chania, be sure to try malaka cheese.” One of them says:

“In Chania they love graviera before it is ripe and use it… in a meat pie made from four cheeses, lamb and mint. I like the melaka grilled over charcoal with grilled tomatoes and then served on a plate with butter, oregano and hot bread….”

And regarding the slang “melaka”… A Russian living in Crete warns:

“Malaka” in the slang version means something like our “druzhban”, “bro”, “guy”. True, they then pronounce this word with different intonations. But guests of the island should not use this word. This word can be offensive to Cretans. It expresses disgust towards a dishonest, stupid person. A curse may be accompanied by a corresponding gesture – an open palm with fingers spread.”

In its original meaning, the word “malaka” indicated a spoiled, soft-bodied person. Who is accustomed to an easy life, is afraid of hard work, any tension and violence. Tourists should be careful when using unfamiliar words and gestures. A gesture that for a Russian driver means, for example, “thank you,” in Greece can be regarded as an insult.

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