An early Greek Christmas bazaar set for this Saturday

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Many people will attest that there’s as much tradition in the Ladies Philoptochos Society Greek Food Fair & Christmas Bazaar as there is in the legend of Santa Claus.

It started many moons ago, back when current members would go with their mothers to the Peter G. Mihailides Center at 175 Oaklawn Avenue in Cranston, to make mouth-watering dishes for dinner and desserts.

Remember that ageless adage that simply states: “Don’t forget to leave the milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve?”

Although it’s not nearly time for that, the Ladies Philoptochos Society will have a number of their traditional treats this weekend during their annual Greek Food Fair & Christmas Bazaar that will run Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

While the Greek Orthodox Parish’s famous roasted lamb, souvlaki (pork), roasted breast of chicken served with rice and salad are surely to be huge hits – as will the caloric creations known as pastry – there’s one dish that will please people’s palates like no other entrée.

It’s called Greek Beef Stew – a.k.a. Stifatho – that is smothered beef and onions in a sumptuous wine sauce.

Stifatho is a special dish that Mike and Bessie Papigiotis have been making exclusively for the Greek Food Fair & Christmas Bazaar for upwards of 35 years.

“And it tastes as good as the aroma that you smell here today,” said Koula Rougas, one of the Philoptochos Society’s members, to several visitors last Friday. “Just taste this beef.”

There’s also a special story, as Rougas related, of how Stifatho became a popular offering for the Greek Food Fair.

“It was her mother’s recipe,” Rougas noted of Papigioitis’ mother, the late Irene H. Psilopoiulos. “After her mother passed away, Bessie’s sister Demetra – along with her husband Harry P. Hoopis – starting sending a donation every year to cover expenses for us to offer the Greek Beef Stew in their mother’s memory.”

If you’d like to sample the Stifatho, which will be served with rice, salad and a dinner roll, head to the Church of the Annunciation’s Mihailides Center Saturday or Sunday where you’ll also find Pastitsio (Greek lasagna), Spanakopita (spinach pie), Tyropita (cheese pie) and Gyro sandwiches.

There will also be Greek sweets including baklava, powdered cookies (Kourambiedes), custard (Galaktobouriko), butter cookies, diples, and rice pudding.

There will also be what visitors to past Greek Food Fair & Christmas Bazaar’s have called “an extraordinary winter wonderland” that will have eight different booths that can accommodate most people’s holiday shopping needs.

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