As you’ve no doubt seen by now, Utah residents do not want for things to do on the weekends.
Last weekend, in addition to the State Fair and visiting Urban Farm & Feed, my family and I went on a little excursion to check out the Salt Lake City Greek Festival.
Salt Lake City Greek Festival
We’d heard tons of great things about the event (especially the food), so we decided to check it out with a friend and her son.
First of all, the church was gorgeous. Being a lifelong Catholic and aesthetophile (I made up that word, yes), I adore any beautiful religious architecture as much as the next guy. This church did not disappoint. We didn’t have enough time to venture inside, but we will definitely make it a point for next year. The outside was regally stunning.
We then headed for the main event.
When we got inside, I was immediately drawn to the dancers up on stage. It was amazing to watch their tradition unfold in their footwork. And the energy these kids had for their heritage was overwhelming and contagious. It made me want to go home and join the local Irish dance team.
I was so happy to see young kids embracing their families’ histories and traditions. I think we need much more cultural pride these days.
After the dancing, we got on with the best part: Noms.
Let me tell you folks, the rumors about the food were 100% true.
Dang, the Greeks know how to chef it up!
I practically had to keep my husband on a leash to make sure he didn’t run off with one of the Greek beauties promising to cook him moussaka and souvlaki for the rest of his days.
I told him I’d make him an omelette at home.
That’s the best I can offer.
Clearly, I can’t compete.
Anyway, while there, we got to nibble on a sampling of classic Greek dishes and delectable desserts. In case you’re not familiar with Greek dinner staples, here are a few of the better known dishes:
Classic Greek Dishes
Moussaka: (moo-SAK-ah) An eggplant- or potato-based dish, often including ground meat. Many versions have a top layer made of milk-based sauce thickened with egg custard or flour in the form of bechamel sauce. In Greece, the dish is layered and typically served hot.
Souvlaki: (soo-VLAK-ee) popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. The meat usually used in Greece and Cyprus is pork, although chicken, beef, and lamb may also be used. In other countries (and for tourists), souvlaki may be made with meats such as lamb, beef, chicken, and sometimes fish.
Fun facts: The word souvlaki is a diminutive of the Medieval Greek σούβλα souvla meaning ‘skewer.’ Additionally, ‘Souvlaki’ is the common term in Hellenic Macedonia and other regions of northern Greece, while in southern Greece it is commonly known as ‘kalamaki’.
Baklava: (BACK-luh-vuh) A rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of phyllo filled with chopped nuts, sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.
Tzatziki: (sat-SEEK-ee) or (cha-CHEE-kee) A sauce served with grilled meats or as a dip. It’s made of salted strained yogurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil. It is sometimes made with vinegar or lemon juice, and some herbs like dill, mint, parsley, thyme etc. It is always served cold.
Gyro: (YEE-roh) A dish dish made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, traditionally pork or chicken, and outside Greece with beef, veal, or lamb. Gyros are usually served wrapped in a flatbread such as pita with tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce.
Fun fact: The name comes from Greek γύρος gyros meaning ‘turn’.
Spanakopita: (spa-nah-KOPE-eh-tah) A Greek spinach pie. The traditional filling comprises chopped spinach, feta cheese, onions or scallions, egg, and seasoning. The filling is wrapped or layered in phyllo pastry with butter or olive oil, either in a large pan from which individual servings are cut, or rolled into individual triangular servings.
Lokma | Loukoumades: (LOHK-ma) or (loo-koo-MAH-des) Pastries made of deep fried dough soaked in syrup, chocolate sauce or honey, with cinnamon and sometimes sprinkled with sesame or grated walnuts.
Fun facts: The Turkish word lokma means “mouthful” or “morsel,” and Lokum is called sfingi (σφίνγοι) by the Greek Jews, who make them as Hanukkah treats.
Galaktoboureko: (gah-lak-toh-BWEHR-ko) A Greek dessert of semolina custard in phyllo. It is served or coated with a clear, sweet syrup. The custard may be flavored with lemon, orange, or rose. Unlike mille-feuille, which it otherwise resembles, the custard is baked with the pastry, not added afterwards. The name means “milk börek”.
Fun fact: Börek is a family of baked filled pastries made of phyllo.
Kourabiedes: (koo-rah-bee-ED-ess) Kourabiedes or kourabiethes (Greek: κουραμπιέδες) resemble a light shortbread, typically made with almonds. Kourabiedes are sometimes made with brandy, usually Metaxa, for flavouring, though vanilla, mastika or rose water are also popular. In some regions of Greece, Christmas kourabiedes are adorned with a single whole spice clove embedded in each biscuit. Kourabiedes are shaped either into crescents or balls, then baked till slightly golden. They are usually rolled in icing sugar while still hot, forming a rich butter-sugar coating. Kourabiedes are especially popular for special occasions, such as Christmas or baptisms.
The kourabiedes were my hands-down favorite of the day.
I don’t know what it is about a classic shortbread that always brings me back to my (Irish and Italian lol) roots, but these things hit the spot. Ours were covered in powdered sugar, too. Can’t go wrong with that!
Not everyone enjoyed the Greek treats, though. Some of us were happy to just nom on Mom…My friend’s precious son was one of them.
Anyway, we had a terrific time seeing the sights and eating the food, and we can’t wait to go back next year and hone in on our new favorite treats!
Until next time, αντιο σας!