Tuesday, May 8, 2012

SAINT GEORGE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH, MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA: Spring food festival 2012

This weekend was very busy for me.  On May 4, 5, and 6 we were having a Greek food festival at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, in Media, Pennsylvania. 
So I spent three days making souvlaki and gyro sandwiches.  To sell.  To all the dear, lovely people who came to visit the church and experience the tastes, sights and sounds of Greece.  I was part of the team that ran the sandwich shop.  There were several other teams made up of our hard working church members.  There were two pastry teams: one sold cookies, and baklava, and melomakarona and galaktoboureko.  The other pastry team sold loukoumades, Greek coffee and café frappé (a Greek iced coffee that is a must have during the summer, and was invented about 50 years ago in my very own home town of Thessaloniki). 
Then there was the large team that cooked and sold such traditional fair as fassolakia, pastitsio, moussaka, spanakopita, Greek salad, and so many other dishes.  There were tables set up on the lawn and inside the church hall, and boy, were they full!  I wanted to take pictures of everything so that I could document it here, but I was so busy that I got very few chances to play wandering photographer.  Next time I will photograph everything, I promise. We are having another festival in early October, and this one is going to be the big one!  You could say that last weekend we had a practice run for what is about to come.  Even though there is quite a bit of work involved, I can't wait!!! I love the festivals, and the friends one runs into there. I love the team spirit that is present and propels every one to keep working. Team work is fun, and it ensures things are well done so that the festival is a success.  You could say that the festival made me very, very happy!
The girls are wearing Pontian costumes.  Pontian music and dance retain elements of Ancient Greek and Byzantine traditions.

We had several dancing troupes perform.  These troupes are made up of Greek youth, and they are separated into different age categories.  I got to take pictures of the youngest troupe, which had a feisty five year old young lady as one of its members. Her name is Gabriella, and she was a joy to watch, but she moved so fast that it was difficult to get a close up picture of her.
"Dancing with the Greek Stars!"

These are the loukoumades, fried fluffy dough balls that are dipped in honey, and have cinnamon and walnuts sprinkled on top.  Irresistible!!!

These were loukoumades.  Somebody polished them off.  

As I said, I was part of "team gyros-souvlaki," and this was my domain:
That's pita bread, hot off the grill.  It constitutes the base of the sandwich. Everything is built on top of the pita, so it needs to be doughy and substantial so that it can hold everything.  This pita fit the bill.  
Here's the gyros freshly grilled and waiting to be sold.  I wish I had a few pieces left over...
Souvlaki... and more souvlaki...  looking delectable and smelling very, very, very good!
So here's what happens:

Take a peace of pita bread and spread some tzatziki sauce on it.  The sauce is made up of yogurt and cucumbers.  There are some herbs and spices in there also.
Arrange a few tomatoes on top of the sauce...
Then go ahead and decorate with some onions.

Gyros. There you are, you lovely thing!  Now fold the sandwich and wrap.  Hurry, because the customer is waiting.
How long will the gyros sandwich stay wrapped do you think?  Not too long, I imagine.
Someone wants souvlaki.  Here we go:  pita and tzatziki,
"Extra tomatoes, please," says the customer.
"No onions, I don't like onions" adds the customer.
No onions it is.  The souvlaki is really delicious: Pork tenderloin cubes are marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, and seasoned with oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. That's the basic marinade for souvlaki.  However, I don't know what specifically the festival's souvlaki chef adds to his concoction.  I think he prepares the mixture at night when no one is around to copy his recipe.
My customer asked for extra sauce on top.  Now that's a great sandwich!
Maria, Maria and Maria.  All right, it's Maria, Maria and Helen (the latter in green).  Some or the ladies from team souvlaki.  The lovely Mrs. Maria in the center is our chairman.  She's the best!  
Here's the souvlaki man tending his grill.
That's the pita guy, going incognito, but diligently tending to his pita bread.
What can I say?  This is Phil, the gyros fellow, a major heart throb as far as the young ladies are concerned.
In Greece, gyros, which means "turn," is typically cooked rotisserie style as seen in the picture above.  In the USA, most of the time gyros is available for grilling as a pre-sliced meat.  It contains a lot of beef, a smaller portion of lamb, and lots of herbs and spices.
Phil, tends the gyros while flashing a winning smile.  He is a member of our elite dancing troupe called the "Pan-Macedonian Dancers."  These dancers practice assiduously and that is evident when they perform.  Their costumes and dances are those of Greek Macedonia.  The Pan-Macedonian Dancers! Wonderful young men and young ladies who are truly the best of the best.  I wasn't able to take pictures of them dancing because I was busy making sandwiches, but I took a picture of a picture of them that is displayed in one of the hallways at church. Clever me. 
My picture of a picture.  I try to post again about the St. George, Media, PA, festivals.  Meanwhile, I wish you Kali Orexi, or Bon Appétit!

8 comments:

  1. Ah, what fun. Thank you for sharing that, Ana.

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  2. It was a very nice festival, Ana. Great food and music. We enjoyed it very much. The loukoumades were fantastic!!!!!!

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  3. Ana - unfair - my mouth is watering - SO delicious. Thank you Francesca

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  4. I love going to Greek festivals. The food is always great. I wish they would sell combination platters so I can have a little of each.

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  5. Wow! This looks and sounds like it was an absolutely brilliant, incredible, fun and fantastic festival! Hats off to you and everyone who helped make it such an obviously brilliant weekend. All the food looks so incredibly delicious, and everyone looks so happy - wonderful! It's been many years since I was at a Greek festival (back in Bayside), but I will always remember the festivities and the fun with great affection. Thanks so much for sharing all these great photos (of all the great food, the great people, the great fun) with us. Opaa! - June

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  6. Hi Ana,

    I like Greek Festivals too. The music, the food. What a great culture. Looks like it was fun. Thanks for letting us in on it. :)

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  7. Oh what a feast was served at your church! I would have gone gaga over the grilled meats and gyros!

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