“Oh no! The pears!” I shouted – thankfully inside my head rather than out loud because I was at the office – as I suddenly remembered the beautiful pears I had bought two weeks ago when embarking on a new diet/healthy eating kick of the kind many of us tend to start every autumn. I had great plans for those pears, but, alas, when I opened my fridge a few hours later I saw they were well past any state of edibility.
Realizing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables we throw away because of poor planning is truly disheartening. A Public Issue poll carried out for WWF Hellas found recently that even in the crisis, 37 percent of Greeks throw away food at least once or twice a month, and 9 percent waste food once or twice a week. The most usual waste is leftover cooked food and, of course, salad greens and fruits.
Such figures were high in Eleni and Matoula’s minds when they decided to start Marathos (marathos.gr).
“Why should we buy larger quantities than we need to make a plate of food?” Matoula Tsesmetzi said when Kathimerini looked her up to find out more about the business.
What Marathos does is pioneering in Greece: It doesn’t cook, it shops for us. Users of the service look at the weekly menu posted on the website – designed by the team’s dietitian and chef – pick the recipes they are interested in and the number of portions needed, and order the ingredients to prepare them at home.
“We first saw the idea abroad and were interested in making it more ‘Greek,’” explained Tsesmetzi, a former executive at a number of prominent food companies. “In most European countries, people order large quantities of food to cover the meals for an entire week, which they have planned in advance. We don’t do that in Greece. Greeks want something more laid-back, something they can order now and get as soon as possible, that solves an immediate problem.”
Problem solving is what Marathos does best. If a recipe calls for onions, they appear, chopped or diced. If it calls for bacon, that too comes cut as it needs to be. “Everything is in the exact quantities it needs to be.”
I had a go at the service. I chose two portions of pork scallops cooked with sage and prosciutto and served with gnocchi (putting my diet on hold for a while). I received a parcel with the meat cut into portions, sage, prosciutto, flour (the scallops need to be lightly floured), extra-virgin olive oil, white wine for the sauce, homemade chicken stock (made at Marathos), gnocchi, butter, salt, pepper, finely chopped parsley and even toothpicks to attach the ham to the pork. It was all there – including a printed recipe with step-by-step illustrations – and cooking it was a piece of cake. The result was great and mainly because you didn’t get the sense of having ordered takeaway.
“We often like a recipe but have to buy all sorts of quantities we don’t need that end up getting thrown away or forgotten in the fridge,” said Tsesmetzi. “Many people also avoid cooking certain things because they know that they’ll have to buy ingredients they rarely use, like coconut milk, for example. Marathos brings them the exact quantity the will need. This also means you can avoid the supermarket, where, as we all know, you tend to end up with a cart full of stuff you hadn’t planned on buying.”
The cost of each individual order comes to 6.50 euros on average and customers have to order for two portions or more.
“All of our ingredients are top quality and most of the vegetables organic. We offer exactly what we would get for our own homes. At this cost, its is brought to your door and you’ve avoided the hassle of shopping and preparation. You also know exactly what you’re eating.”