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Get your fill at Greek Food Festival

The list of favorite foods at the annual Greek Food Festival is long — shish kebabs, lamb shank, gyros, spanikopita, tiropita, baklava, loukoumades, etc. — but one thing was missing until now: chicken. The protein will pack a spicy punch as a new addition at this weekend's festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

"People were asking for chicken and there wasn’t any," said Irene Sinapole, one of the event's organizers.

With an assortment of meat and vegetarian options, Sinapole said they decided to turn one of the two lamb booths (farewell, lamb chops) into one serving chicken wings, along with feta fries.

Using the same spice rub used on the lamb, these grilled Greek chicken wings should be a hit. "They taste familiar but different," Sinapole said.

Of course, those who must have lamb can still dine on the rich lamb shanks and side dishes.

"With the lamb shank dinner, you're going to be full. ... The full dinner has these gigandes beans, large white runner beans in a tomato sauce, and Greek salad."

Another newer dish is the galaktoboureko, a traditional Greek dessert with a custard filling surrounded by a crispy phyllo shell, that is being served in the pastry room.

It has the endorsement of Sinapole and her husband, who were both lucky enough to be in the church's kitchen when a tray was being readied by a fellow volunteer.

"They were warming everything up and she came up with a sheet of galaktoboureko. She came back and they were all gone. She asked, 'Where are my pastries?'

"I can tell you they are really good because they disappeared and there were only five people there."

Along with an appreciation for good food, organizers value tradition, whether it's the dancers, many who started as children and have gone on to teach others to dance, or the classic Greek dishes like pastitsio, oven-baked pasta with layers of pasta, ground beef and bechamel sauce.

"The recipe that is used is handed down from one of the parishioners' mothers. She probably got it from her mother."

"In America, things don't seem to pass from generation to generation as much," she said. "At the Greek church we have several generational things."

And it's that sense of history that keeps the festival thriving. For three days, guests can dine, drink, shop, entertain the children (including new balloon hats at the raffles booth), learn more about the church, listen to music and even dance themselves.

"You don't have to be a social outcast," Sinapole said of the inclusive style of Greek dancing. "You get in a line together. In togetherness, we find ourselves among ourselves. We all celebrate that we’re alive."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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