Pure traditional products - Our Own Cured Meats
At 12 Ithomis Street, a quiet alley in the historic centre of Kalamata there is a small shop with a very long history. Above the entrance an attractive green wooden sign leaves no doubt as to what’s inside: ‘Pure traditional products. Oikonomakos Cold Cuts. Sausages – Our Own Cured Meats’.
In front of the shop, framing the entrance, you’ll see two folding tables, of their own invention, that cover half the narrow pavement, a hint that something crafty is happening there. Then the tables open up, revealing mezedes, pure temptation, and an invitation to come inside and see what else is on offer.
People begin to come and go, locals to get their special meats for the week, Athens-based former residents and Athenians to pick up as much as 8-9 kilos of cured meat to satisfy their cravings back home. In any case, where would they find better?
The cured meat and the orange-flavoured sausage we tasted were as tender and delicious as could be. Other mezedes on the table included sfela cheese and a few pickles that were displayed in pretty ceramic bowls, with a card in front of them saying:
‘Please don’t serve yourselves, for reasons of hygiene’. We took a seat in the office of Petros Oikonomakos, the boss, which was behind the display case. We struck up a conversation and chatted away. With Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra singing in the background on the shop’s music system, Petros started telling us his family’s history, which began during the Ottoman occupation!
‘Nionios Oikonomakos, my grandfather, one of the founding members of the Messinia Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Butchers’ Society, opened the first butcher shop in Kalamata. Some years later, his son, Yiorgos – known as Galanis – took over and ran the place in the old meat shops in Othonos Square, which were later demolished when the district was renovated. Gradually my brother, Nionios, and I got involved and made sure to keep the quality of our products to the same high standard. In 1995 I created a place to make our cured meats in the Kalamata Biotechnical Park, and our main sales point remains this shop here in the historic centre’.