Archangel Michael Greek fest brings out traditions and innovations

Ethnic traditions, food are passed on at ...

By Sean Barron


There’s a simple, two-step device that recently came onto the market that has great potential to change how you will deal with and handle grape leaves.

“This roller machine is for beginners,” said Evelyn Klimis, referring to a small item on which grape or cabbage leaves are placed, then filled with beef or other ingredients before being rolled and collected in a small slot – all steps toward preparing a popular Greek food.

The rolling machine also is a new feature at the Greek Festival 2017 celebration at Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, 401 12th St.

The twice-per-year, family-friendly gathering, which kicked off Friday, continues from noon to 9 p.m. today at the church and features plenty of ethnic foods, wines, items for sale and entertainment. The event also takes place every September at the church.

The event, which started in the 1950s, is primarily to share with and pass along Greek faith, traditions, culture and heritage to children and the community. Along those lines, it gives youngsters and adults an opportunity to further appreciate what their ancestors had started and carried on, noted Charlie Pizanias, an Archangel Michael Church councilman.

Proceeds mainly go toward the church’s operating and maintenance costs. This year’s event is highly important also because Archangel Michael Church is undergoing a major renovation project that could cost as much as $1 million, Pizanias said Saturday.

“We’re very fortunate that our parishioners pledged 80 percent of it,” he continued.

Klimis was among those selling merchandise in a section called the Greek Emporium. Items for sale include leather necklaces, pendants, crosses and other religious symbols, rings, T-shirts, cups, scarves, blankets, headgear, purses, a Greek dictionary and a book titled “Greek Made Easy,” which contains basic syntax, grammar and sentence structures.

Another crowd pleaser seemed to be the small bags of herbs for sale, such as rosemary, chamomile and mint for $1 apiece.

“They’re all handpicked from Greece,” Klimis added.

A common sight was a continual long line for foods on the main menu from $2 to $7, which consist of rice pilaf, Greek fries, spanakopita (a Greek spinach pie), tiropita (a pastry filled with an egg-and-cheese combination), Greek salads, stuffed grape leaves, beets seasoned with olive oil and skordalia (garlic sauce). The main dinner items are Greek-style chicken as well as baked lamb and fish.

Popular American foods include hot dogs, hamburgers, lemon shakes and green beans.

Those with a taste for fine Greek wines had 10 from which to select, including Emeros White, which has a fruity aroma.

“It’s a sweeter red and definitely sweeter than cabernet,” said John Tomich, a longtime church member as he described a full-bodied wine called Mavrodaphne. “It’s more of a dessert wine.”

Of course, no such festival would be complete without the variety of pastries and breads. Those include $7 loaves of tsourekia (a sweet, egg-enriched bread), karidopita (a cake made mostly from walnuts and honey and covered in a sweet syrup), kataifi (a cheese pastry soaked in sugar-based syrup with nuts and honey that resembles Shredded Wheat cereal) and bougatsa (a breakfast pastry often filled with custard and cheese between layers of phyllo).

In advance of Valentine’s Day, heart-shaped kourambiethes (cookies covered in white powdered sugar) were on hand.

Attendees also enjoyed Greek music, along with a series of dances in which a few dozen children age 5 to 18 participated. The youngsters’ outfits were colorful and decorative with symbolic value, said Pizanias.

“Their costumes represent the Greek islands where their families came from,” he said.

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