Wilmington festival celebrates everything Greek

Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 01:05 PM.

It’s time to start loosening those tongues and practicing those Mediterranean pronunciations.

This weekend marks the 22nd year for the St. Nicholas Greek Festival, Wilmington’s premier tribute to Hellenic food, culture and faith. And with an average annual head count estimated at 20,000, you definitely don’t want to stumble when it’s your turn to order the tiropita or loukoumades.

For longtime festival fan Gena Sadler, it’s a chance to get just a little bit closer to a major travel fantasy.

“I love all things Greek — the food, the culture, the people. It is on my bucket list to visit there, and this year I actually might get to go,” Sadler said. “The Greek Festival is always a wonderful event. Everyone is so friendly, the food is perfect and the atmosphere is just so happy.”

While live music, traditional dancing and tours of the stunning St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church aren’t to be missed, the incredible array of edibles is easily the biggest draw.

For serious foodies, the cooking demonstrations are a must. Stella Babson has been tasked with organizing a team of cooks well versed in the classics, and six sessions during the three-day festival will help the curious master Greek coffee, spanakopita, baklava and dolmades. She’s taught cooking lessons at the festival for 14 years, and the demos have been part of the festivities since day one.

Babson’s specialty is baklava, an iconic Greek dessert built around paper-thin phyllo dough, chopped nuts and honey. While some versions call for pistachios, Babson prefers walnuts, but has been known to give it a Southern spin with pecans. The version she teaches is one she learned years ago.

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