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Church members gather for a day of making finikia. Courtesy photo.




St. Philip Greek Food Festival

When: Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church Grounds, 500 W. Hollis St., Nashua
Tickets: Admission and parking free
See: stphilipnh.org/events/festival, 889-4000, office@stphilipnh.org




It’s all Greek
St. Philip’s kicks off the Greek food festival season

05/14/15
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



Few festivals can claim ties to the community as much as St. Philip’s Greek Food Festival, a popular annual event in Nashua for over 30 years that features homemade baklava, kourabiethes, dolmathes, pastichio and much more.

We have people that come for lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday so they can get their fill,” said Jamie Pappas, one of the festival co-chairs.

Since there is no admission fee, it’s tough to say how many people come through each year, she said, but based on the meals sold she estimates the number is around 6,000 to 8,000 people. To prepare for the crowds of hungry people, St. Philips members have been cooking and storing food since the beginning of February.

If you were to come by our church right now you would see one well-stocked freezer,” Pappas said.

During the winter, members gathered at the church on Saturday mornings in order to get a jump on the process of preparing enough food to satisfy festival-goers. Pappas said each year they make 150 pans of spanakopita, 5,000 dolmathes, 450 pounds of Greek style meatballs, 90 pans of pastichio, 1,600 pounds of lamb and 900 pounds of chicken. The latter two are marinated and cooked just before the festival, while the others are added to the stockpile in the church’s commercial kitchen.

On the weekend of the festival, lamb, chicken, pastichio, dolmathes, spanakopita and meatballs can be purchased as a dinner plate, which includes rice, green beans and salad, or a la carte. Other a la carte options include rice pudding, chocolate-covered strawberries and Greek pastry items baklava, galatoboureko, finikia, kourabiethes, kataifi, koulourakia, pumpkin pita and tiropita.

Food is just what brings [people together], not only in the Greek community, but … when you have that deep cultural commitment and family, everything surrounds around food and drink,” Pappas said. Parish president Jorge Panteli, whose great-grandmother settled in Nashua years ago, learned from church members now in their 70s and 80s how important the festival is within the Greek community in the area.

In the old days the church was the center of the Greek community; that’s where their friends and extended family were,” he said in a phone interview. “The festival still represents that community of pulling people together, pulling friends together, for the community and sharing the Greek traditions with the community. That’s what our festival is today.”

An example of the tradition in the church is apparent from the volunteers who cook for the festival. Ranging in age from early twenties to early nineties, in some instances three generations are represented in the kitchen at one time. All of the festival dishes are made from time-honored family recipes that parishioners have volunteered to share.

Everybody has their specialty that they make and they step up to the plate,” Pappas said.

She said the value of using the old family recipes year after year is the authenticity of it.

I like tradition,” she said. “I like the handed-down recipes.”

What is special is this festival in particular, everything is handmade,” Panteli said. “The only thing that’s processed is the chicken breast and lamb. Everything else is from scratch.”

Panteli is one of the members in charge of cooking the lamb and his daughters also help out in the kitchen.

We’re passing it down to the generations and try to incorporate the kids as part of this so they can carry on the traditions,” he said. “That to me is what the festival is all about.”

While the food is the main attraction of the weekend, there will also be vendors selling ingredients used in Greek cooking and handmade jewelry. On Saturday kids can enjoy a bouncy house, and on both evenings the band Ta Pethia will perform live. Greek Hellenic dancers will put on a couple of shows and church tours will be available for guests to discuss anything from customs to icons with church members.

As seen in the May 14, 2015 issue of the Hippo.






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