The legend of the Trojan horse gave us the epic warning, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” If you wanted to heed that advice today, would you even know who’s Greek? Of course, Kalamata-born Yanni thanks the muses for his talent, but what about Jennifer Aniston? By the beard of Zeus, her real last name is Anastasakis! You might also be surprised to learn that Portland is a hub for Hellenic culture. Immigrants from Greece first arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s, and the annual Greek Festival (Oct. 5-7) has been a rollicking neighborhood get-together for the last 60 years.
In1952, the congregation of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church came up with the event as an unorthodox way to pay the mortgage. The festival of authentic food and culture takes over the block adjacent to the church from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. With more than 15,000 people in attendance, it’s one big, fat, Greek festival, to be sure.
There’s a craft bazaar, music, dancing and church tours, but the Greek food offerings steal the show. In addition to savory lamb, souvlaki and spanakopita, you’ll find karithopita (spiced walnut honey cake), tsoureki (braided sweet bread) and melomakarona (orange-flavored cookies, spiced with cinnamon). You might want to reconsider that “Greeks with gifts” advice — we bet you’ll accept these treats with open arms.