NEWBURYPORT — What do you have when you take 900 pounds of lamb shanks, 700 pounds of lamb and chicken kabobs, 5,500 stuffed grape leaves, 30-plus pans of moussaka, 48 pans of spanakopita, and enough salad, rice pilaf, green beans and honey-soaked desserts to sink a small battleship?
You have just part of the menu of the Greek Festival, an unofficial opening event of Yankee Homecoming, cooked up and served lovingly by very dedicated members of the Newburyport’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Harris Street, near the Newburyport Public Library. Running today from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the feeding frenzy has been a beloved staple of Yankee Homecoming since the early 1990s, according to Anna Mamakos, one of the festival’s founding organizers and cooks. The three-day event started on Friday.
“We have people who come all three days,” Mamakos said.
“I run the register, and some people come twice a day,” said Rena Monoxelos. “One man came for lunch and said he was coming back for dinner with his wife. He asked me to please not tell his wife he’d already been here for lunch.”
The best advice for people who have yet to experience the delicious food at the festival for the first time is to go hungry and eat slowly, so every morsel can be savored. But be careful. Even when your stomach’s full, your mouth will want more ‘cause it tastes so good.
“People love the Greek Festival because everything’s home made,” Mamakos said. “We make everything from scratch.”
Offering Greek salads, entrees, sides and desserts, many dishes are made from the family recipes of the 15 to 20 members of the church who do most of the cooking. There’s no scrimping, the produce is fresh, the meat’s top quality, even the olive oil’s authentic.