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My Big Fat Greek Food Tour | How to induce a baklava food coma at Greekfest

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — What do you mean he don’t eat no meat?

The spirit of Aunt Voula was on full display at Knoxville’s Greekfest on Friday, with enough succulent lamb and meats roasted on a spit to make even the snarkiest Portokalos content for a day.

*If you haven’t seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, here’s the best sample YouTube offers. But also it came out in 2002, come awn.*

I spoke with a chef at the loukamades tent, Gary, who told me that food in Greek culture is a way to bring people you love together. It’s served with love, to the ones you love. So even if you don’t eat is as much, you’ll soon wish it was available on UberEats more when you see how comforting, no hassle, and super nourishing it is!  

Here’s everything I ate on My Big Fat Greek Food tour today, ranked by who in the Portokalos family would enjoy it the most. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ve binged My Big Fat Greek Wedding more times than you’ve actually tried the food the Portokalos family enjoyed.  

Feel free to listen to this while you read. 

Toula Portokalos would treat herself to a baklava sundae

Baklava sundae

Madison Stacey

My girl Toula was brave and unafraid to step outside the expectations her family put on her. This perennial GreekFest favorite is a fun take on a Greek dessert staple, and perfect for these aggressively hot September temperatures. 

It’s vanilla ice cream topped with shredded baklava and syrup with whipped cream and a cherry on top. $3. 

Ian (IIIAAaaaAAAnNNN!!!!) Miller would go for the saganaki & dolmades combo plate 


Madison Stacey

Ian Miller is the love of Toula’s life and – to the shock of her 27 first cousins – is vegetarian. If you’re looking for some good eats that are meat-free, this Saganaki & Dolmades Combo meal is where you should head! 

The meal is a Greek kasseri cheese, flamed with brandy, and served on a crusty bread with a squeeze of lemon. It’s served with dolmades – grape leaves stuffed with seasoned, spiced rice. You get all that for $6.00. 

Gus Portokalos would be adamant about where the lamb and beef gyro ACTUALLY comes from


Madison Stacey

When you think gyro, you think Greek. When you think Greek, you think Gus Portokalos, the headstrong but loving “neck” of the Portokalos family.

The gyro at Greekfest is a seasoned blend of beef and lamb slices in a warm pita bread, topped with tomatoes, onions, and some amazing tzatziki sauce. $7.00. 

Maria Portokalos might not eat the Pastichio – but she’d make twelve pans of it for her family


Madison Stacey

This ziti noodle dish is packed with layers and maybe the most nourishing people I had.  I could barely walk through the festival without getting stopped by people asking me what this is, which is alternate layers of ziti noodles, grated cheese, and a mix of sauteed ground beef flavored with spices and tomato sauce and topped with a rich cream sauce.

In short it fills your stomach in a way that the overgenerous Maria Portokalos would appreciate. $6.00. 

Aunt Voula would insist on the lamb sandwich

That's ok I make lamb

Madison Stacey

Like Aunt Voula, this sandwich is pretty straight to the point. You’re treated to tender lamb slices served au jus – which means it’s seasoned with it’s own natural juices apparently – on a warm ciabatta bun. You can also get a generous topping of tzatziki sauce.

Aunt Voula’s favorite *vegetarian* alternative runs $8.00 

Nick Portokalos would grab a spanakopita


Madison Stacey

Proudly Greek but with multiple layers, the feelings of Toula’s younger brother are multifaceted as this veggie packed pastry. There’s also a delicate artistry to spanakopita, which Nick also posses in bunches. 

It’s a thin layer of filo dough filled with a mixture of Greek feta cheese, spinach and eggs baked until it’s golden brown. $4.00. 

Cousin Angelo would try the loukomades, and tell Ian it was something totally different 

Greek donuts

Madison Stacey

Cousin Angelo was always taking advantage of Ian’s lack of proficiency in the Greek language But, like this classic Greek dessert, he’s less intimidating than he seems.  Don’t let it’s long name scare you off – loukoumades are an amazing, sugary treat that are served up doused in citrus and honey syrup! Nom. $4.00.

Cousin Nikki would take a shot of good Greek coffee before getting into it with Angelo

Cousin Nikki is bold and energetic, so is this amazing coffee. If you need a pick me up from the crowds at GreekFest, make sure to hit up these that puts Starbucks totally to shame – as Cousin Nikki tends to do. 

The Millers would spend all day touring the renovated St. George Greek Orthodox Church sanctuary, and eventually settle on the tiropita 

Tiropita for the win

Madison Stacey

If you’re looking for a food that’s not too crazy, the tiropita is a perfect snack. It’s filo triangles filled with eggs, butter and several varities of Greek cheeses and baked to a golden brown. 

If you want to experience Greek food, this is a scrumptious first start! $3.00

RELATED: 40th annual Greek Fest opens doors to newly renovated sanctuary

RELATED: In the kitchen: Pastichio recipe

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