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Baklava, vaskania, and Retzina at Greek Fest

Greek to Me



Church members and friends from the Greek Orthodox Church in Charleston opened their arms to hundreds of guests during their three-day Greek Fest, making everyone feel as if they were a member of some giant, extended Mediterranean family. Of course, as in any large, European family, food was the focal point. All of the food was prepared by church members, and if guests had a question about the foreign cuisine, the largely female crowd of servers were on hand to answer exactly what ingredients comprised their favorite meals and how they were put together. It was as if everyone had their own ya-yas explaining the secret family recipes that had been in the clan for longer than anyone could remember. The lines for gyros remained long, for chicken and beef rather than the traditional lamb, but for many the pastries were the main draw. One female customer said she was happy to brave the thunderstorms on Sunday, just for a piece of the legendary baklava. Yet some patrons were out of luck, as the sticky-sweet pastries sold out before the day was halfway over. Traditional music inspired the line-dancing the nation is known for, with church members joining in on the romps they know like second nature. Jewelry, art, and knick-knacks were for sale, including the familiar styles of the old country, especially the blue glass "evil eye" or vaskania. In lore passed down from at least the 6th Century, elders give the vaskania with specific prayers to younger generations, which according to superstition, wards off evil wishers and spirits. The Charleston community should extend a large eycharisto to the members of the Greek Orthodox Church for sharing their beautiful traditions with community members. We're already looking forward to next year, and all of the baklava and tzatziki we can eat. Opa!

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