From left: Sam Khalil, Steve Simon and Abe Fanoney prepare grape leaves for rolling.
Photo by Colleen Healy/The Almanac
Saints Peter & Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church is holding its 35th annual Mediterranean Festival Sept. 21-23. Last week preparations began with a grape leaves cooking session, one of many planned to prepare for the festival.
Hala Paskaleva enjoys coming to the annual cooking sessions because she learns how to make Arabic food. As a child, she was taught to make traditional dishes by her mom and feels “it is fun to come here and see different techniques and learn from the ladies of the church. What’s nice is that we are from all over the Arab world. There are third and fourth generations here. I am the first generation to be born in this country. Now I bring my daughter who gets to put her hands in the dough and learn the names of the food. Food is memories. We eat when we are sad, and when we are happy we celebrate with food. At the festival all the food is made with love. We welcome everyone and want to show them what it is like to be a part of our family. We hope people get to know us and our culture.”
Steve Simon added, “This event is more than fundraising; it is about sharing our culture with the community. It is about maintaining traditions and understanding customs and there is no better way to share than through food. It is fun to see many generation working together to prepare the different dishes.”
Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church’s 35th Annual Middle Eastern Festival features authentic Middle Eastern food, music, giftware, raffles, pastries and jewelry. Free parking, free admission, carry out available. Saints Peter & Paul is located at 10620 River Road, Potomac. For more information call 301-765-3400 or visit www.peterpaulpotomac.org.