Middle Eastern Food Festival sees perfection
Posted on Sep 25, 2012 in Features
It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Saint George Melkite Greek Catholic Church. A warm breeze carried delicious smells around the outdoor dining tents set up on the church’s greenery. The aroma was coming from inside, where the food was being served. It was none other than Saint George’s Middle Eastern Food Festival. The thirty-first one to be held at the church, in fact. The festival has been a big annual event for the church, raising money for both the church itself and its community.
Things kicked off on Thursday and lasted until Saturday, with early lunch being served from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Festivities picked back up again for a 4:00 p.m. dinner until 9:00 p.m. A drive thru service was also offered, but the real fun was to be had at the church itself. The weather was absolutely perfect for an outdoor dining experience. Catered by Nabeel’s Cafe in Homewood, the food being served was mostly of the Palestinian and Lebanese variety. On the menu were entrees (nothing under ten dollars, but also nothing over twenty) consisting of lots of baked chicken halves and green beans cooked in a crushed tomato sauce. Also being served was kibbee, a finely ground round steak mixed with cracked wheat and various spices. Meat eaters could also enjoy meat pie, a triangle shaped bread stuffed with ground chuck and cream cheese.
Alternatively for vegetarians were spinach pies, which were much like the meat pies but stuffed with creamy spinach instead. Rolled grape leaves may have tricked a few non-meat eaters, though, for they contained ground chuck. Whatever your preferences may be, you can never go wrong with a falafel!
All meals were served with an Arabic salad, cup of humos (not hummus, humos!), and warm pita bread. The food was packed in styrofoam boxes that could either be taken home, or more appropriately to the outside dining tents. Middle Eastern music, ranging from electronic pop to more traditional style, played softly from set up speakers. The meals were quite filling, but if you managed to have a little room left, the dessert table was fully stocked. Most people familiar with Middle Eastern food have heard of baklava, but there was more than just that. Ma’amoul, a shortbread pastry, or Kaak dates, namora, garabee, and chocolate covered baklava – choclava!
Aside from the food, the festival also had an array of entertainment. There were six groups of Arabic dancers performing at different times of the day. One group was especially talented and adorable, made up of tiny costumed children who just happened to be featured on Thursday morning’s Good Day Alabama. One dancing group was from New York City. Unfortunately the tradition of a visiting camel was not had this year. Not enough money was made from last year’s festival to bring the beautiful beast back.
But the possibility of Miss Camel returning next year seems quite feasible, as this year’s festival seemed quite the success. Friday’s dinner time was in great attendance, with people having to park on the neighboring streets. Money was also taken in from indoor vendors selling trinkets such as stained glass, rosaries, and beautiful painted eggs. Even a Sno Cone vendor was in sight. Sno Cones, obviously, the first thing you think of when Middle Eastern culture is brought up. If it helps to bring the camel back, we should all be for it!
The food festival was of course delicious, and the entertainment was fun. If you missed this year’s, be sure to check it out next year. Hopefully with a camel in tow.
Senior Staff Writer