LACONIA — Athens wasn't built in a day, and neither was baklava conjured overnight. Rather, it took centuries, perhaps longer, for the food to evolve into the decadent treat loved today: crisp layers of phyllo dough, filled with chopped nuts and spices, and soaked in honey. Many Mediterranean cultures claim baklava as their own, but in the U.S., it is closely associated with Greek cuisine.
But there's more to Greek pastry than baklava. Also common is spanikopita, which also utilizes phyllo but which takes a savory turn, with spinach and cheese in the filling. Both of these will be available for purchase on Saturday, at the Greek Pastry Fair held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church.
Mary Lou Beshta, organist and member of the church's Ladies Philoptochos Society, which is putting on the event, said there will also be lesser-known but similarly delicious items such as karidopita, koulourakia, kourabiedes, dolmathes, fruit bars and meat pies.
The meat pies are a big seller, said Beshta. Ten-inch round pies, filled with cooked pork and beef, potatoes and onion. They can serve four to six people each and are sold frozen with baking instructions, which means that they can be saved for a piping warm meal later this winter. "That's the beautiful part of it," Beshta said.
Beshta's favorite of the day is the galatoboureko, "a rich pastry over custard."
The Greek Pastry Fair is an evolution of the church's holiday fair. Last year, organizers decided to drop some of the ancillary activities, such as raffles, and focus on the treats that everyone was coming for, anyway. There will be Greek cookbooks for sale as well.
The Ladies Philoptochos Society is a charitable organization within the church. Proceeds from the pastry fair will be used to purchase needed items for the church, or will be donated to other charitable efforts.
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