Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Lamb souvla, traditional recipe for Greek Orthodox Easter

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BY RANIA HATZIOANNOU

This year, the Greek Orthodox Easter is celebrated on Sunday, May 5th.

If you have never witnessed the service, take a walk down to St. Nicholas and Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church on Boundary and East 29th in Vancouver on Friday, May 3rd or Saturday 4th to see for yourself the ritual that is two thousand years in the making.

The highlight of the Epitaphios (lamentation icon) services on Good Friday is the Lament of the Tomb. It is carried outside the church as the congregation follows the procession and the chanting is hauntingly melodic. This service begins shortly after 7:00 pm, is outdoors, and lasts just over an hour.

On Saturday night, the services are also primarily outside to accommodate the mass crowd that attends. It begins late in the evening. As the service approaches its climax (midnight), the congregation arrives with new candles. The priest calls for the congregation to take light, and one by one they go to the priest for the lighting of the candles. This spreading of light across the darkness is a spectacular sight.

If you wish to witness this, arrive around 11:00 pm. At midnight, the Resurrection hymn can be heard, all of this is outdoors. In Greece and Cyprus, the hymn is barely heard as fireworks explode and church bells ring. The celebration begins and everyone cries out, “Χριστός ανέστη!” (Christ is risen!)

Easter Sunday is a full day of feasting following the 40-day Lent.

Greeks gather with their families and feast. Cypriots also gather with their families and extended families and a day of feasting begins.

The process of cooking is as important as the meal itself.

The main dish is usually souvla.

How to make lamb souvla

This is a lamb dish slow-grilled on a spit.

The fire is started hours before the meat is prepared. It is best to use charcoal or ash/twigs from grapevine branches.

The recipe itself is simple:

Use prime tender lamb. Cut it into chunks about the size of a rubik’s cube. Season the meat with oregano, salt and pepper. Skewer the meat, brush with olive oil, and slow-heat it over several hours on a souvla spit.

Cypriots enjoy souvla as the main course on Easter Sunday, as well as at most other holidays throughout the year.

Souvla is a simple, yet delicious main dish. Traditionally the men sit around the spit to monitor the heat levels. The women prepare the side dishes such as horiatiki salad*, and lemon potatoes. When the souvla is ready, it is served with lemon wedges, salad, potatoes and yogurt.

*Horiatiki salad

Horiatiki salad is a traditional Cypriot recipe for a classic salad made from a blend of tomatoes, onion, cucumber, with feta cheese in a dressing made of olive oil, coriander and flat-leaf parsley. Add olives just before serving.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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