This morning Heidi and I packed up the fam and headed downtown to the farmers' market at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City. We spent a couple hours with her sister and parents wandering around from booth to booth, trying the food and doing a little shopping. I've never been before, but it was nice. I’m glad we went. The beautiful weather didn't hurt, either.
As things started winding down at around eleven, I remembered that we were right across the street from the yearly Greek festival. To hear people talk about it, it’s a pretty big deal. Food, booze, music--what else do you need to party? I’ve considered going several times in the past, but never got around to it. So Heidi and I agreed to go. We made our way across the crowded market to see what it was all about and were there in a few minutes.
What I was hoping for was something more ethnicational--a nice portrait of Greek heritage, culture and cuisine. What we got for \$12 admission and around \$50 on food was more like Greektoberfest with a locally enforced fest restriction and a shortage of Greeks. Don’t even get me started on the tobers. I couldn’t find those little shits anywhere, and people just seemed to get annoyed whenever I asked.
Yes, there were some people in costume doing traditional dance at the opposite end of the enormous tent where we stood in line. Of course, there was Greek food at the end of the long line, but it was barely warm. It tasted ok, but I like Heidi’s souvlaki much better. (Granted, it would probably be more fair for me to pit a toddler with a Play-Doh kitchen set against Wolfgang Puck. Heidi’s a ninja in the kitchen.)
Don’t get me wrong. The people who talked to us were genuinely warm and kind. I can’t say that I had a bad experience. It’s just that I had hoped to immerse myself, if only a little, in another culture. I wanted to leave knowing a little more about the world than I did before arriving. Instead, I left a little less naïve. The $60 I gave to the local Greek Orthodox fundraiser bought me a watered down, over-hyped lunch break buffet in return.
So if it’s Greek culture you’re after, go to Greece. If that’s not on the menu, hit one of the several Greek restaurants around the valley. Hell, stop by Apollo Burger and have a gyro. Or you can stop by next year in your lederhosen on your way to Snowbird, where I’ll be using bratwurst, sauerkraut and a local brew to reconnect with my fractional Swiss heritage.