I look forward to the Holy Trinity Greek Festival all year long. It is held every October and by July I start anticipating the smoky fragrances of roasting lamb on the spit, and the hot oil fryers of the pastry tent. We’ve been going for so many years I’ve lost count. We’ve watched it grow and expand over time to accommodate the ever-burgeoning crowds in what appears to be a hugely successful fund-raising event for Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Our annual pilgrimage takes us to the lovely tree-lined streets and vintage homes of Laurelhurst, one of old-Portland’s premiere neighborhoods. Finding parking on the residential streets can take a bit of tenacity, but we always manage to find a spot without too much trouble and walking through the neighborhood is a part of the pleasant experience.
As we make our approach to the church, we are first greeted by the delicious aroma of lamb roasting and the sounds of bouzouki music. I always have to exercise a certain level of self-restraint when I hear Greek music as it tends to make me want to extend my arms, start snapping my fingers and exclaiming opa!
A large tent is set up where the ladies of the parish sell their homemade pastries… all Greek traditional tasty treats like baklava and other things I can’t quite spell or pronounce the names of, but all delicious, every one, I’m sure.
Loukoumades, which I suspect means little-fat-pills in Greek, top my list of Greek savories. They are basically doughnuts, fried and dipped in honey or a sugary syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. They are definitely a must have every year and very popular.
But, before dessert, we head for the the dining hall where we feast on a traditional Greek chicken dinner. Tables are set up in the gymnasium and people are seated family style. I really like this part of the festival, because invariably we meet nice people. It is not an everyday thing to dine with people you don’t know, but it works in this situation and seems like a very Greek thing to do.
Dinner begins with a Greek salad with feta cheese, olives and tomatoes.
The main course consists of roasted chicken, orzo, green beans Greek-style of course, and a kourabiedes cookie for dessert.
After dinner, we take a trip through the market area where various Greek imports are sold.
I always try to stop in at the Ethos bookstore to pick up an icon for my refrigerator icon collection. This year I found a rather stern image of Christ; I like it, it’s different from any others than I have and will be a nice addition to my growing number of magnets.
Next we go to bask in the afternoon sun for awhile and watch the children dance in their traditional costumes. It is nice to see them learning and carrying on their traditions.
We always like to visit the church; it is very beautiful and peaceful and while typical of orthodox churches, quite different from western churches I am familiar with. I always begin by buying a candle.
And what is one to do with a prayer candle, but to light it and say a prayer, of course.
We go into the church for a few moments of reflection in the quiet under the gaze of the icons which line the walls. It definitely feels like a holy place and quite a contrast to the party atmosphere just beyond the front door.
And for the finale, we make our obligatory visit to pasty tent for a dessert and Greek coffee