September 13, 2007
Get ready to eat
Greek food is the heart of Glendi
By Lisa Brown email@example.com
The elderly ladies of Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester are passionate about their church and the success of its annual Glendi Festival.
For months, many of them are fully engaged in preparation for the three-day festival. In the weeks leading up to the event, the community center at Saint George Cathedral, where all the Greek food and pastries are meticulously prepared and assembled, is busier than the Keebler Cookie factory.
Trays of kourambiedes are pulled from the oven, stored on cooling racks and then brought over to long lines of tables where more than a dozen ladies stand ready on each side, armed with large sifters full of snow-white powdered sugar. They sprinkle just the right amount of sugar across the buttery cookie medallions. If a volunteer isn’t sure there’s enough sugar, the unofficial inspector, 90-year-old Victoria Copadis takes a look. Once she gives her approval, the cookie is placed in a thin pastry paper and packed for the festival. Copadis, who was born in Manchester and who has attended Saint George her entire life, since the days when it was located on Pine Street, says she was involved with the festival long before it was called Glendi, which means “good time” in Greek.
“I’ve been on board ever since I was carrying my son and that was 52 years ago,” Copadis said. “You know, we used to come at night, we used to work too [during the day at other jobs] and we used to have our suppers ready at night and then come home and then come up here after supper and work until midnight or so.”
Glendi 2007 is the largest Greek festival in Manchester. More than 30,000 people are expected to pass under the big white food tent in front of the cathedral during the three days of total Greek culture immersion, Friday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 16, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Glendi 2007 promises exceptional Greek cuisine, entertainment, dancing, arts and crafts, raffles, games for kids and more food. Because it is primary season, don’t be surprised to find a little politicking going on.
“Saturday tends to be a popular day because it is election season and a lot of the political hopefuls will be around,” said Kelly Urban, a Glendi co-chair. Urban says she’s not sure which candidates will show up, or when, but does say that the Hillary Clinton campaign made a donation to the event.
“Mr. Copadis [George Copadis, one of the co-chairs] sent a letter to all the candidates and businesses and she was the only one who responded in-kind and we are pleased with her donation to the church,” Urban said. However, she stressed, that donations are not endorsements on the part of the church. “We have no political ties, none.”
In addition to Urban and Copadis, Manchester community leader Dick Anagnost is a co-chair for this year’s Glendi, which is considered one of the largest in New England.
“A lot of people come from Massachusetts or they are just driving through,” said Joe Poulos, a volunteer. “Big cities like Lawrence, Somerville, Lynn and Brockton, they all say ‘this side of Boston it is the biggest festival, oh my gosh, I mean we have thousands and thousands [of people] and it moves right along, it is remarkable.”
The popularity of Glendi has meant a lot of hard work for the 30 to 40 volunteers who do all the cooking, planning and setup. Many of the workers are retired and elderly, which concerns people like Victoria Copadis.
“The new girls, they don’t know all this, and the newcomers coming in ... I don’t know how long the Glendi will last if they don’t get going and try to help more,” Copadis said. “These ladies are getting older, every year we lose ladies, you know.”
The good news is that all the recipes, including information like the actual cost down to the penny to make a meatball, are kept in a specially guarded notebook that is passed on from year to year. This year Kelly Urban is in charge of the kitchen. Every so often she’ll pull out the notebook and read through old penciled-in notes along the yellowed margins listing tips on how to make the festival run smoothly.
“The average age is 80 years old and they all come and they know what they have to do. They have tweaked the process in such a way that everybody knows what they are doing,” Urban said. “The tables are set up in straight lines and each volunteer is partnered off.”
Grace Griburas, who just spent the summer in Greece, where her daughter attends college, is in her third year of directing the making of the Spanakopita, a Greek pie of layers of crusty filo with spinach and cheese filing.
“There’s 750 pounds of spinach, there’s about 17 cases of filo, which is 30 pounds in each case, each pita that we make we get 48 servings out of each pan,” Griburas said. “For each pan we use three pounds of filo, five pounds of spinach, three pounds of cottage cheese, three pounds of feta cheese, about ten eggs in there and we have to butter in between each layer of filo.” How much butter in between? Griburas hesitates.
“There’s about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of butter in each — do we have to say?” Griburas said.
By the time the festival begins, she and her crew will have 150 pans of Spanakopita to dish out.
This year, for the second year in a row, a drive-through lunch is being offered. It will be open on Friday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. only.
“You can come into the parking lot and stop under the bridge and the chairman will be there to give the order and take the money,” Urban said. “It is convenient and we want to give everyone the opportunity to taste the food and to know what we are about — at least half of what we are about. The other part, of course, is the Church.”
People who want to take advantage of the drive-through lunch are urged to call ahead to place orders so that traffic flows smoothly. The lunch menu is a trimmed version of what is being served at the festival. The menu includes barbecue lamb, baked chicken, stuffed peppers, gyros, dolmathes (sometimes spelled dolmades), pita and salad. Desserts being offered for lunch are loukoumades (fried puffs with syrup and cinnamon) and a pastry sampler which includes baklava (crispy filo, buttered and filled with walnuts and honey), kourambiethes (buttered cookies with powdered sugar), kataifi (shredded filo with walnuts and syrup) and finikia (honey-dipped cookies with walnuts). During Glendi, the menu is expanded to include baked lamb shank, Greek meatballs, loukaniko (Greek sausage) and pastichio (layers of macaroni and meat laced with a creamy cheese sauce). Expanded pastry choices include saragli (rolled filo, buttered and filled with walnuts and honey) and diples (curled fried dough dipped in honey with walnuts on
top). Though three days is enough time for most people to get a good fill of Greek cuisine, for some it is still not enough. No problem: most of the food being served is available for take-out and it freezes well. And while most of the food is being prepared in advance, there will be plenty of cooking going on during the festival. All the lamb, chicken, sausage and hot dogs (for those who don’t want Greek) will be cooked on site. Seating is available under the big food tent and in the church community center. Also in the community center, there will be booths featuring Greek desserts, holiday wreaths, afghans and other handmade items, jewelry and religious gifts. There will also be a mini raffle.
“It is just wonderful, you can go booth to booth and enjoy the experience. We have a religious booth [where] we sell icons and religious things,” Urban said. “The items have to do with our deep faith in God and Christ and what we are working for is showing the community what we are all about. We love being Greek Orthodox.”
Once Glendi gets under way, all the baking will be over but not all the work. Victoria Copadis still plans on helping out behind the scenes, making Greek salad and looking for new volunteers for next year’s celebration.
“When the ladies come help with Glendi ... they will see how it’s going to be run. At least a lot of them do know [the Glendi tradition]; they are married to Greek fellows and they know how to make Greek food,” the nonagenarian said.
To learn more about Glendi 2007 and Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral and its history, visit www.stgeorge.nh.goarch.org or call 622-9113.
When: Friday, Sept. 14, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 15, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 16, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 650 Hanover St., Manchester
Admission: Free, but bring cash for food
Parking: McDonough School on Lowell Street, Derryfield Park on Bridge Street and the parking lot at Bridge and Highland streets will have free shuttle service on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Please drive thru
Glendi will offer a drive-through for lunch on Friday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call to order in advance at 622-9113. Fax 622-2266. Cash or check only. Parking attendents will direct motorists to pick-up area. Menu includes:
• Barbecued lamb dinner ($10.75) Seasoned lamb, rice pilaf, Greek salad and roll.
• Stuffed pepper dinner ($7.50) Pepper stuffed with rice & hamburg, Greek salad and roll.
• Baked chicken dinner ($ 9) Half of chicken, rice pilaf, Greek salad and roll.
• Dolmathes ($4.75) 3 Grape leaves stuffed with rice & hamburg, egg lemon sauce.
• Gyro ($5) Blend of lamb and beef topped with lettuce, tomato & Tzatziki sauce wrapped in pita bread.
• Pita ($3.25) Layers of filo, spinach and cheese filling.
• Greek salad ($3) Tossed salad with feta cheese, olives, oil & vinegar dressing
• Loukoumades ($1.50) 6 fried puffs in syrup and cinnamon
• Pastry Sampler ($12.50) 2 baklava, 2 kourambiedes, 2 kataifi & 2 finikia
Greek powdered sugar cookies
Recipe from Chrysanthe Nagios
1 lb. unsalted sweet butter
1 egg yolk
1 cup ground walnuts
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour
1 tsp. of vanilla
1/4 cup of powdered confectioner’s sugar
Soften butter and beat in egg yolk. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Slowly add 2 cups of flour. To this mixture, add 1 cup of walnuts and 1 more cup of flour. Remove from mixer and slowly hand-mix the remaining flour. You may not need to use all of the flour. Keep mixture moist, not too dense. Flatten dough mixture and make desired shapes. Place in an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes at 350. Bake until light golden color. Do not overcook. Remove cookies and place ona large platter that has been coated with confectioners’ sugar. Sprinkle cookies with more confectioners’ sugar. Wait about 5-10 minutes and sprinkle a second time. Yield: 5 dozen cookies.
Baked Stuffed Peppers
From The Greeks Have A Recipe For It, by Anagennesis Ladies Society of Manchester
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. mint leaves
1/2 cup rice
1 cup water
1 6- to 8-ounce can tomato sauce
8 green peppers
Cut tops off the peppers, remove seeds and wash. Simmer onions in large frying pan until brown. Add beef and let it get brown. Add spices, rice and water; simmer for about 15 minutes. Add 1/4 can tomato sauce, mint and parsley; simmer for 10 minutes. Butter sides and bottom of large baking pan. Fill peppers with meat mixture and put tops back on. Add rest of tomato sauce and 1 cup of water. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until peppers are soft..
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