It's clear why Greek food festivals intrigue non-Greek citizens. Food festivals allow people to try something different aside from their culture. The best bit is that they don't even have to leave their country, which makes the event easy, fun and delicious. However, the draw of the Greek community is often confusing to me.
Of course, those that are born and raised outside of Greece feel obliged to follow and save traditions. However, such behavior is much deeper than a typical Greek guy from Athens understands. As the story goes, your grandmother made tiropita on Friday, so it's unnecessary to travel all the way to the Greek town to pay for the same stuff.
Let us not forget the Greek dancing! I spent half a year in the USA indulging in Greek dance more than I have if I were to combine all of my time spent in Greece. I also really dislike people when they choose to shout 'OPA' regularly. I can't remember a single special occasion where I heard this phrase being screamed out; it's a particular pet hate.
Greek festivals are a bit like marmite; you love or hate them. Regardless of whether you love or loathe them, they are unique. I discovered this recently after visiting Toronto's Taste of the Danforth.
You may be wondering why I was in Toronto. My wife and I are residing in the USA for 12 months. My wife Kim had to travel back to Greece this summer to look after some family relatives, and of course enjoy the beach and cocktails. We're lucky that we live close to the Canadian border, so we were able easily to buy an economical ticket for a flight departing and arriving out of Toronto. A couple of hours driving saves us a lot of money!
Kim was returning on August 11th, so I made a plan. Instead of picking her up from the airport and traveling back home on the same day, I decided to call an old friend who I'd pass on the route, for a little catch-up.
My friend was delighted after receiving my phone call and took charge of arranging everything. We watched a brilliant show and enjoyed a great dinner on Friday. Saturday was a lazy chill out kind of day spent simply relaxing and catching up. He informed me that we would be going to a Greek food festival on Sunday; I tried to respond as enthusiastically as possible with a simple 'great.' I was tired of people dragging me to Greek events, but I didn't want to appear rude or ungrateful.
So, we headed off to the Taste of the Danforth, which is no ordinary food festival. In fact, it is the largest Greek street festival held in North America. It's a huge event with around 1.6 million attendees annually; it currently celebrates its 22nd year anniversary. The festival takes up many streets that are blocked off for pedestrian access only. Local eateries showcase all of their food on the streets. You get lost in the smells of souvlaki, gyros, greek salad and olives.
After an unforgettable day, stuffing my face with more cuisines than I anticipated, it's safe to say that the Danforth Greek festival is one like no other, and worth a visit.
Author: Nick from Hellenic Lifestyle.