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A taste of the Middle East in McLean

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The kitchen at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church in McLean was filled Labor Day weekend with fresh ingredients and busy volunteers. It took 250 pounds of beef, 560 pounds of chicken and 160 pounds of a beef/lamb mixture to make enough delicious shawarma, kebabs and roasted lamb for all the attendees of the Middle Eastern Food Festival. For dessert, tasty pastries were baked with 200 pounds of butter and a lot of nuts: 100 pounds of walnuts, 75 pounds of pistachios, 40 pounds of pecans and 25 pounds of almonds. 

In addition to feasting, festivalgoers toured the church, learning more about the history of Middle Eastern Christianity. Outside, people sat on picnic tables next to a row of booths where vendors sold sandals, olives, icons, jewelry and other goods. Children sporting face paint rode ponies, petted fenced-in farm animals and jumped on the moon bounce. In the evening, there was vespers and dinner, followed by dancing.

Every year the event gets bigger and bigger, said Father Joseph Francavilla, pastor. “I always tell the people that the food is sort of like bait,” he said. “We get them into the church, in the ambience, and then we tell them about Jesus — not necessarily using words.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

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