For some reason, lamb is not one of the preferred meats in America. However, the Greeks have elevated the preparation to lamb to an art form. I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has two Greek festivals a year — one in June and one in November.
This past weekend, I went to the Greek Folk Festival — which was hosted by the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Baltimore. The festival is always a good time, Greek dancing, exhibits, and loads of people watching. But I always go for the food — specifically the lamb. So when the festival posted on their Facebook page that they would have lamb on a charcoal spit on Friday and Saturday, I was positively giddy!
I went to the festival on Saturday in search of lamb. Then I saw it — a huge charcoal spit with a lamb and chickens.
When I stepped up to the order window, the nice Greek lady said the lamb would be ready in “20 minutes.” Apparently Greek time is a little slower than regular time. I gazed longingly at the slowly turning meat, and chatted with another lady in line while the minutes ticked by, Then, it was time.
Tommy, the rotisserie master, and his assistant removed the lamb from the spit and quickly went to work. First he cut and removed the string that held the chest cavity closed. Then, with a couple of confident whacks with a large knife, he removed the head. Tommy made quick work of slicing the rest of the lamb. He paused every couple of minutes to hand bits of crispy skin and tender meat to me and a couple other ‘lamb groupies’ who were watching him work.
I finally got my order. On the side, I got Greek-style green beans —green beans cooked in garlic and tomatoes — and roasted potatoes. The lamb was seasoned simply, so its true flavor shone through. It was still on the bone, so I ditched propriety and ate it with my hands. The meat was succulent and delicious.
After I got my order and before I dug in, I chatted with Tommy, an amiable Greek man. He said he’ll do it bigger next year. I put in a request for suckling pig.What are your favorite summer festivals? Let me know in the comments!