Tired, hot, and still sick, I was hardly in the mood for preparing food today, so Greg and I looked to the good folks at the Somerville Greek Festival for sustenance. And did they ever provide!
I was never aware of church festivals when I was growing up, so when Greg started pointing them out to me and suggesting we go for a meal, I was a little weirded out. You mean, we just go into this church we have nothing to do with and they'll sell us delicious homemade food? Really? At first I assumed they would be more like the VFW pancake breakfast or Boy Scout spaghetti night... I mean, no offense to those events, but they're usually best thought of as carbo-loads for the following 5K. But Greg finally dragged me to a Portuguese church festival, where a cheerful older man was grilling sardines while handing out hunks of skewered raw meat for guests to cook for themselves over an open campfire, and I was sold.
For lunch, we shared a gyro and some moussaka. The gyro meat was tender and lightly seasoned, the pita was soft and slightly smokey from the grill, and the tzatziki was dominated by the tang of plain yogurt. This made for a very satisfying gryo, subtler than most. The moussaka was meltingly smooth, perfectly balanced between spices sweet and savory. I kept having to have just one more bite to identify the components of each layer and determine how they melded together so perfectly!
And then, the dessert table! Years ago, visiting Greece, I was shocked (and delighted) to learn that Greek desserts did not begin and end with baklava. My fingers were sticky with honey at least half the time we spent in Athens. While baklava is great, there are so many similar (and I would say superior) Greek confections: if there's a combination of dough, oil, honey, nuts and cheese that is delicious, trust that it is being made, and devoured, in Greece. Of course there are also cookies, cakes, and all sorts of other sweets, many of which were represented at the festival.
Best of all, they had a little machine for making loukoumathes: it plopped out balls of dough into a tray of hot oil, where they bobbed until they were a glowing golden-brown. Topped with honey, nuts and cinnamon, they are mildly sweet, with a soft spongy bite.
All of the amazing honey-sweetened desserts made me think of my jars of honey back home with a new eye. I've been trying to use honey more for a number of reasons. Mainly because I love the taste and the variations in flavor between different varieties, but also because there are a lot of great local apiaries, and I am sort of hoping it might eventually help with my horrific seasonal allergies. So I might be turning to some Greek desserts, like the diple below, next time I have a sweet tooth!