So we went to Greece last week.
OK, maybe not exactly. But we did have a weekday adventure by visiting the annual Wilmington Greek Festival for the first time. The festival is a charity event for the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, which sits on a hill in the heart of the city looking for all the world like it belongs on Crete or Rhodes overlooking an azure sea.
When I decided to go, I thought we might have a gyro or two and check out the traditional music and dancing. That was until we arrived and learned that the heart of the action – the place to see and be seen – was the dining room with it’s communal tables situated in the Hellenic Community Center behind the church. My heart sank when I saw that the line for food snaked all the way around the large room but it actually moved fairly quickly and Tommy enjoyed looking at the posters that lined our route, some offering a rundown of Greek history (we learned all about the Pelopponesian Wars) and others simply showing Greek’s great beauty circa 1984, judging from the copyright dates.
When we reached the front of the line we passed on the dolmades, because I didn’t think the boys would like the texture of the grape leaves. But they did load up on keftedes (Greek meatballs) and orzo with tomato sauce and feta cheese. I had a stuffed bell pepper and mousaka – a kind of eggplant and mashed potato casserole that is a favorite of mine but which is a pain to make and which I never eat at home. Since I was there alone with the kids and would be driving home, I passed on the ouzo and Greek beer that was also available (although I’d like to report that I was in the minority here – I’m guessing that the bar is a big money maker for this event). But we did share a bowl of rice pudding.
While we ate we watched people stream into the dining room. A man with a handlebar moustache smiled and winked. Someone’s new baby granddaughter was passed around and fussed over. Couples who were clearly on dates leaned up against the pictures of Crete and Santorini waiting to feast.
When none of us could eat another bite, we made our way groggily into the warm evening full of people and, incongruously, the Beach Boys, whose music was blasting from a tent where a local radio station was broadcasting.
Tommy and Teddy considered going on the moonbounce while I snapped this sunset photo of the church. But they thought better of it (I’m actually kind of grateful as the very idea of it made me feel a little nauseous). And so we wandered back to our car, tired as any great adventurers would be. Next year I’m thinking we need to make sure we check out the inside of the church before we eat as there is nothing like a belly full just to the edge of discomfort to discourage curiosity.