Fred Tabash and Daniel Valentini are on grill duty.
Photo by Nadezhda Shulga/The Connection
The Middle Eastern Food Festival in McLean on Labor Day weekend has been traditionally hosted by Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek-Catholic Church. This festival has been on for 26 years. Every year, more and more people come here to enjoy Mediterranean food, music, and dances. Once you come here, you will be taken in by the charm of this place.
“We make the food, we sell the food, and our volunteers serve the food,” Protodeacon David Baroody explained. “The food is a nice thing, but that's not the reason we do it. We do it to introduce ourselves and welcome visitors from the community. We want people to learn about us.”
The origins of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church go back to the traditions of the Ancient Near East. The Church was serving delicious Eastern Mediterranean food such as Beef Shawarma, Beef and Chicken Kebabs, and Falafel. Along with the tours organized by the Church, it was a fascinating way to learn more about the culture and traditions of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
The Festival’s special is a Roast Lamb Dinner. The waiting line for this dish stretches to the entrance. It hasn’t been without the Dabke, a traditional Arab folk dance performed at the wedding or joyous celebrations, and festivals. Catchy rhythms quickly captivated everyone.
Traditional desserts like baklava, maamoul, namoura, or ghraybeh were some of the mouthwatering pastries available throughout the weekend.
You can't imagine how many kinds of baklava there are — stuffed with walnuts, pistachios, or pecans; small and large, squares or round shapes. The traditional desserts were accompanied by cookies, brownies and fudge.
Jennette Tahhan Leiva, a volunteer at the Food Festival, shared that the Church takes a special place in her life. She has been attending this church since she was a child. Her grandparents helped to start this church. Her parents, her sister, she herself was married here.
“My parents and other families ran the outside grilling section of the festival,” she said. "As my parents are getting older, they passed down the tradition to us. For the last 6 years, my husband and I have been taken over this tradition. My husband is in charge of meat and grilling. I am responsible for making sure we have everything we need for the process.”
For the families with kids, the festival offered a playground with a moon bounce, face painting, and pony rides. Nearby, there was a market section that sells olive oil, books, and icons, oriental jewelry, traditional dresses, and scarfs.