Greekfest in Orlando: When to say “Opa!”

It’s refreshing to see that Greek Orthodoxy in America is going strong; with 6 million Orthodox Christians in the US, young and old Americans of Greek heritage support their community through their local churches.

In Orlando, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church of greater Orlando offers a variety of information through its web site.

Having attended several Greek festivals through the years, I can say that they get better and better. The food is home-made and delicious, giving that of restaurants a real run for the money. Orlando Greek Fest 2011 was definitely a success.

But not everything is authentic by Greek standards. Many things deemed as Greek are tweaked outside of Greece. To a Greek transplant, this seems odd at first but I can only say that after a while one chooses to ignore the “oddities”.

No, dear friends; hummus is not Greek. But try melitzanosalata or taramosalata instead when ordering food at your favorite Greek restaurant.

The concept of  flambeed “saganaki” cheese is unknown in the Greek mainland; the same goes for the chanting of “Opa!” when serving such delicacies at various Greek tavernas and restaurants in the US.

When dancing, and we aren’t talking about the “Zorba dance” devised for the sake of the movie ‘Zorba the Greek” in 1964, it is appropriate to cry out “Opa!” to encourage a dancer who’s performing on the dance floor. Definitely not appropriate when serving your grandma’s stuffed grape leaves, also known as dolmades.

While some attempt to deliver the essence of the Greek psyche, you need to live in Greece – and not drop by as a tourist – in order to understand and appreciate the culture, the food and the joys of being Greek.

Matt Barrett is a prolific producer of one such guide, at and provides authentic and factual information for English speakers.

In a nutshell, those that condemn Greece and the Greeks for living life and enjoying its moments need to take a deep breath, step away from their electronic world and smell the roses.

I will now close with “kalo brady” – for “good night” – thus saving the “opa!” for when I dance.


  1. Great country! I’ve been there in the summer of 1991 with my family. We lived for a couple of weeks in a small town named Loutraki a visited beautiful places like Athens and old Corinth, among the others.

    BTW nice post, efharisto!

  2. “…thus saving the “opa!” for when I dance.”

    Do you have any video of that?



  3. Well said my friend.

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