There is nothing wrong with a community wanting to showcase products that it produces and that are part of its existence and culture. That is why many communities organise festivals associated with a product. Palouze [Translator’s note: pudding made from grapes] festivals held in various wine-producing communities, fig festivals, cherry festivals, prickly pear festivals, haliji [soft white cheese] festivals, tomato festivals, dairy festivals, kleftiko [slow-cooked meat in a clay oven] festivals… They also provide an opportunity to re-evaluate the potential of local crops, at a time when even garlic is imported from China.
With these festivals, many communities come alive, even for just one day, expatriates return to their birth place and meet their fellow villagers, ‘out-of-towners’ discover new places, people and habits for the first time… Before the feminist revolution, a homonymous miss was also chosen as part of the festival. She would not have an international career, but it was a title that boosted the winner’s stock.
What is bad is when the aim of these events is a Guinness World Records entry and the illusion that this entry will serve as an advertisement, attracting tourism. But tourists – and especially those whom we like to call quality tourists – do not choose a destination based on where the biggest koupepi [stuffed vine leaves] was wrapped and where the largest group danced a zeibekiko or a syrto [traditional dances].
These are our records: The largest flaouna [cheese-filled pastry made for Easter] weighing 259.5 kg, and measuring 2.45m long and 1.24m wide. The biggest hasapiko [Greek traditional dance] group with 749 dancers. The largest loukoumi [traditional sweet] weighing two tonnes and 718 kilos. The largest gyros weighing 4,022 kilos and standing 2.30 [metres] high. The largest hair comb and so on and so on. Our ambitions for whatever is biggest have no end. Xylofagou is preparing to conquer the potato record as part of a festival called ‘The Xylofagou Big Potato International Festival’. “In addition to the international dimension it will take, the festival is also aiming for an additional conquest across borders, which is none other than a place in the Guinness Book of World Records,” the organisers explain. Avdimou has similar ambitions and it will attempt to break its own previous record by surpassing the seven-metre koupepi. Every local community leader, elected or appointed, is making their mark.
Nevertheless, we were not satisfied with Michalis Hadjiyiannis and we wanted a Deputy Minister of Culture who has read at least 6,000 books (as many as the president) and who understands that the Guinness Book of Records is nothing but a record of bad taste. And now that we have found her, are we looking for the next Guinness record to conquer? Of the biggest sheftali [minced meat wrapped in caul fat], perhaps?
Source: THE GUINNESS CULTURE