Feeling “Greek For a Day”!


The traditional tastes of Greek moussaka, souvlaki, pastitsio, spanakopita and baklava, have for many years attracted neighbors and residents of the DC area to the yearly St. Sophia Cathedral Greek Spring Festival. It's a labor of love for the members of the congregation who work months in advance to prepare for this great celebration of Greek culture organized as a fundraiser for the Cathedral.

Kate, who lives in Northwest DC, has been coming to the Festival for 20 years to hear the live music. Of Irish descent, she feels it's an opportunity to feel Greek for a day. Most importantly, it's a time to enjoy the loukoumades (the delectable Greek donuts) and unlimited baklava.

Another DC resident, Joanna, has been bringing her daughter to the Festival for many years. She reminisced on her experience as a college student when her parents, who were of Italian descent, and her roommate's parents, who were of Greek descent, shared each other's cuisine during family get togethers. She certainly is passing this tradition on to her daughter.

"It is so great that the entire community has come out to support us," commented one of the many volunteers behind the pastry counter.

Pat Samos, whose family immigrated from Sparta, explained that members of the congregation start making pastries weeks in advance. Another volunteer, Cleo Hangemanoli, proudly confides that at age 95, she still loves to share recipes that she learned from her parents, who also immigrated from the same town in Sparta as Pat's family.

The lines inside and outside the church were very long, but all would agree that it was worth the wait to enjoy the menu from the Greek Cuzina (Kitchen) that include roast savory chicken and lamb fresh off the grill, traditional casseroles including pastistio (pasta and ricotta cheese) and mousaka (eggplant and potato), spanakopita (spinach and ricotta) and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and the simple, but exotic garnish of taramasalata (whipped caviar spread…served best on warm pita).

Entertained by a live performance of Greek music by local musicians, Greeks and non-Greeks alike took to the dance floor and danced into the night. The marketplace showcased vendors with wares including fine and costume jewelry, pottery and home goods, clothing, music, Byzantine icons and a traditional Greek grocer.

Until next Spring …  when we can all feel Greek for a day.

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