Keyword
in
Collection
Date
to
Download Folder

0 items

Kyriazis, Eleni
Kyriazis transcript, 1 of 1
File size: 127 KB
Citation
MLA
APA
Chicago/Turabian
UH - Houston History Project. Kyriazis, Eleni - Kyriazis transcript, 1 of 1. October 4, 2010. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 21, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/765/show/764.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

UH - Houston History Project. (October 4, 2010). Kyriazis, Eleni - Kyriazis transcript, 1 of 1. Oral Histories from the Houston History Project. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/765/show/764

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

UH - Houston History Project, Kyriazis, Eleni - Kyriazis transcript, 1 of 1, October 4, 2010, Oral Histories from the Houston History Project, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 21, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/765/show/764.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

URL
Embed Image
Compound Item Description
Title Kyriazis, Eleni
Creator (LCNAF)
  • UH - Houston History Project
Interviewer (LCNAF)
  • Roberts, Kristi
Date October 4, 2010
Description Eleni Kyriazis is a member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas. She has been the pastry chairwoman for the church’s Greek Festival for twenty-two years, and was the co-chairwoman of the Festival in 2002. I consider her a leader in Houston world of Greek pastries because of her long-standing and successful leadership position at the Festival. The production of Greek pastries and Eleni’s role as chairwoman of pastries is a great place from which historians can analyze women’s role in food in Houston. The recording of the interview runs just over forty minutes. Eleni Kyriazis was interviewed on October 4, 2010 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 3511 Yoakum Boulevard, Houston, TX 77006. The interview was conducted Kristi Roberts on behalf of the Oral History of Houston Project, Center for Public History, University of Houston. The interview is available at M.D. Anderson Library on the main campus of the university.
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Culture
Subject.Name (LCNAF)
  • Kyriazis, Eleni
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • interviews
Language English
Format (IMT)
  • audio/mp3
  • application/pdf
Original Item Location ID 2006-005, Box 13, HHA 00715
Original Collection Oral Histories - Houston History Project
Original Collection URL http://archon.lib.uh.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=231
Digital Collection Oral Histories from the Houston History Project
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the "About" page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Kyriazis transcript, 1 of 1
Date October 4, 2010
Original Collection Oral Histories – Houston History Project http://archon.lib.uh.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=231
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the "About" page of this website.
File name hhaoh_201207_335b.pdf
Transcript HIST 6384: Oral History Fall 2010 ORAL HISTORY PROJECT A Taste of Houston A Part of the Culinary Crossroads Project UH Center for Public History Interviewee: Eleni Kyriazis Interview Date: October 4, 2010 Place: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Interviewer: Kristi Roberts Transcriber: Kristi Roberts Keywords: Greek Orthodox, Community, Heritage, Food, Houston, Festival, Family, Childhood Abstract: Eleni Kyriazis is a member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas. She has been the pastry chairwoman for the church’s Greek Festival for twenty-two years, and was the co-chairwoman of the Festival in 2002. I consider her a leader in Houston world of Greek pastries because of her long-standing and successful leadership position at the Festival. The production of Greek pastries and Eleni’s role as chairwoman of pastries is a great place from which historians can analyze women’s role in food in Houston. The recording of the interview runs just over forty minutes. Eleni Kyriazis was interviewed on October 4, 2010 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 3511 Yoakum Boulevard, Houston, TX 77006. The interview was conducted Kristi Roberts on behalf of the Oral History of Houston Project, Center for Public History, University of Houston. The interview is available at M.D. Anderson Library on the main campus of the university. HHA# 00715 Page 1 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 1 Houston History Archives Kristi Roberts: If I could have you say your full name? Eleni Kyriazis: My name is Eleni Kyriazis, I’m Greek. KR: Ok. And Eleni, where and when were you born? EK: I was born in Jaffa, Palestine and I grew up in Aman, Jordan. So I speak Arabic also. But I’ve lived in the United States since 1968. KR: And how did you come to the United States? EK: We emigrated. My husband’s company actually brought him here for a job, and then I loved it. So we decided… Inaudible interruption Sorry, so we, I came to the United States to be with him and my child, actually, my oldest daughter was born, she was 17 months old and I loved it, I spoke English so there was no problem there. I had to translate faster from Greek to English, from Arabic to English. And so we loved it and we decided to go back and get our papers ready to come back, because my husband actually studied in Saint Louis University in aeronautical engineering, so he always loved the United States. And actually we officially immigrated February 7, 1970. KR: Great. And where did you emigrate to? How did you come to Houston? EK: Well actually, the first stopped that we stopped was in Chicago, the doctor was a friend of ours, you know, you need a sponsor to come to the United States, he sponsored us so we went to Chicago, stayed with him for a couple of weeks, but as I said my husband works with airplanes, and all the private airplanes and all the companies that work with them were in Houston. So he already had a job, the job that he was working with he had left to go back and get our papers, they wanted him. So we came to Houston. We were here two days and he was working. He got a job immediately. KR: What was it like to grow up, with your multiple heritages? What was it like to grow up Greek? EK: Well actually, we thought we were always better than other people because we lived with Arabs. And trust me they are wonderful people. And I went to private school; we went to a nun school. And my friends we had Christian and Muslim girls; it was an all girls school. But we always felt you know we were a little but better because we were Greek, we always you know thought you were a little bit better. And I still think [that] because I’m Greek. Anyway, But it was fun. Living in Jordan was very nice because it was safe, they were not backwards. I could go to parties with boys just like the United States so when I came here it was not such big difference, for me it was the same. HHA# 00715 Page 2 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 2 Houston History Archives KR: Do you have any memories of the women or men in your family cooking and being around that? EK: Yeah, my mom was the best cook in the world. She made everything. I mean really. We never bought anything to eat. Everything was cooked at home. You made your jam, you made your lemonade. You made your, everything. The cheese, the olives, we get once a year we get your olives and we break them and put them in brine. Everything was done at home. We had a maid, so she always helped and all that. Your cakes you make from scratch, my mom used to make the pita bread. The guy that has the bakery they would come to the house, pick it up, bake it and bring it back. I know, it was the life. So it was very nice. And my mom cooked everything. And I remember every Sunday my cousins would be invited over, because the mother was not living with them, they were divorced. They would come and eat at our house. And their memory was that it was the best meal they had every Sunday, because my mom was a very good cook. I never participated, though. I used to sew. I loved sewing. I would buy fabric and make dresses for myself and my sister, I have a sister, and for my mom also. So when the food was ready she would call me to come and eat, I was very skinny and didn’t eat much. I wish I was like that now (laughs) Always we had nice meals. It was always family time. Sunday with my mom we would go to church and come back and have a nice meal. And every day it was really nice. KR: Tell me about your family. EK: Well my dad actually he was a mechanical engineer, so what he did was install electricity generators and water pumps in farms in Jerico is beside Aman is where all the plants were, you know the bananas and everything because it’s below sea level so it was warm, so every rich family Jordan had a farm over there and my dad used to go install them and then maintain them whenever. So they would call him and send him a car and he would go to Jerico and take care of things and all that. So we never bought bananas by the pound, the whole thing of banana would come to the house, flour, it in those big burlap sacks, sugar it was the same way. I mean, that’s how it was, it was hilarious. But that’s how it is life was so different over there. We had everything but it was so simple. It was really nice. That’s what my dad did, he was very good at what he did, my mom was a teacher before, but then when she got married she stopped working. And that’s what we were doing. And actually my dad worked at King Hussein, was the king then, before now his son is the king, he had a farm and his uncle had a farm actually, so he (her father) would go and fix it. And his uncle would come and visit us at the house. And he would come with his driver in a jeep. And he would have a hawk on his hand with a glove and all the neighborhood kids would come to see the hawk. It was very nice, we lived a nice privileged life it was really nice, but it was simple, as I said we were not rich or anything, [we] had a house. But we were happy, went to private school and all that. It was nice. My dad had lots of brothers and sisters, my mother had also, about four, two brothers and two sisters. So it was a big family. And we all lived close to each other so we always visited. On Sunday, our house was always open. You know overseas, you ate your big meal at lunch. So, in the afternoon everyone would visit. So we would say ok, Thea, Viscones loukoumathes? You want to make us some loukoumathes? And my mom would just whip some loukoumathes and everyone would eat. So that’s what we did. We didn’t have TV then, we would be sitting there all in the living room with the afternoon sun coming inside and we would all be reading and then when people would stop dropping in to HHA# 00715 Page 3 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 3 Houston History Archives visit, there was no inviting people. It was all simple. We’re coming over! Come on over. So we would make coffee and whatever. And that’s how we lived, really. KR: How do you think food might have played a role in facilitating community and getting together? EK: Exactly. The food is the main thing, actually. It’s always. It was either having people come over for lunch or dinner, mostly it was lunch, even when we went on picnics. We were like 40 Greek families and we did stuff together all the time. Everybody would make a few things and just take them with us. And then they would make the sis kabobs, you know the meat on the skewer. And we would put the watermelon in the running water and by the time we were ready to eat it it would be frozen cold. So we all got together. And it was such a nice pleasant friendship with everybody. We always invited people over, or got invited. So it was always like this. It wasn’t like you have to go to clubs all the time. It was visiting people in their houses. I remember my mom, as we were growing up; they had a group of ladies. Each one would have people come over. I mean, ladies would come over to her house a certain day. Like, my mom’s was on Thursday, once a month on Thursday all the ladies would come to our house. And my mom would make several cakes and several little sandwiches. Or the taboula, with the cracked wheat, its an Arabic thing, you soak the cracked wheat and then you cut tomatoes and cucumber and onions and parsley and all that and mix it all together with lots of olive oil and lemon juice and you wash the lettuce, the romaine lettuce and put you it on top and eat it. It was so good, I know. The Arabic food is actually very similar to the Greek food. But they have their own thing, you know the different spices, so yeah that’s what we did we just all got together, the kids would get together and the adults would be there and we all had a good time. KR: That’s great. EK: Sorry about the noise. KR: No, its fine. Since you are the chair of the pastry committee, do you have a favorite pastry? EK: Actually I do. I love kourabiethes, the ones with the powdered sugar. We clarify the butter here to make them. And that’s the secret. When you clarify the butter all the water and whatever the salt from the butter all goes away and you get that buttery flavor. So it’s my favorite I make baklava and I help with the other stuff but my favorite is that kourabiethes. KR: Do you have any memories with kourabiethes? EK: Not really. My mom actually would make them, but they were a little bit different she would make them like an S shape and she would put ouzo in the dough so when you bake them, when you wanted to eat it the inside would have a little hole, just like an empty hole there and she would a piece, one thing of pistachios on, because overseas we had a lot of pistachios, so she would put pistachios on and she didn’t put the powdered sugar like we do it here, and still it was my favorite.HHA# 00715 Page 4 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 4 Houston History Archives KR: How did the powder sugar…why did she? EK: I don’t know, I don’t know. I think the Greeks from Greece they put a lot of powdered sugar on, but the Arabs apparently not, but my mom was doing both. And so that’s what it is. KR: Were there any other dishes that you think your mom had a variation of that maybe was a little more Arab? EK: Yeah actually, the dolmades. We don’t make, you know from the grape leaves. Overseas when my mom made them she would make them very skinny just like a finger. Very skinny and then we would eat them she would bake them with a little bit tomato sauce. We don’t do avgolemono like the Greeks do. The first time I tried it when I got married and I met my in-laws and they did it with avgolemono. We ate avgolemono soup, it was different, but not on top of the dolmades. So it was a different thing, yeah. And they would make the dolmades for with fasting, with no meat and the other way. KR: That’s interesting. EK: Yeah it’s different. And they’re skinny, skinny and they look nice. (laughs) KR: What other dishes was your mom famous for? EK: There was one dish which actually, I might go overseas after the festival. It was a chicken that she made with different spices. Of course its Arabic again. They use a spice which is um, like red its called sumac, it’s a little bit lemony actually if you go to Drubi and buy the spanikopita which is like a triangle and you bite into it you feel that something lemony inside and that’s what it is. And that chicken it cooks on a slow fire you know they do the onions and they put the sumac and they put even different spices they put the all spice in it and all that and then she would cook the chicken and then put everything together, you know put the pita bread and the onions and put the chicken on top and they would roast the koukounaria, what is the koukounaria, you know, the pine nuts, and put everything in the oven and the chicken would become, you know, a little bit crisp on top and all that and oh, that was the best meal. So I was telling my sister, I said, if we go to Aman the first meal I’m eating is that. KR: Do you travel with your sister often? EK: We do, actually. My sister, unfortunately, lost her husband ten years ago. I’m the second child. My brother was the oldest he passed away also. And we have like about 20 months difference so we’re very close. She lives in Dallas. She actually when she immigrated she went to Detroit, and she was working with Royal Georgian and company, she’s a travel agent and they sent her to Chicago so she worked for a couple of years there and then she got the opportunity to move to Dallas. And she wanted to because it was Texas and it was closer to us. So we see her all the time. And actually this August we went together to Alaska on a cruise and it was fun, fun, fun a whole week, it was beautiful. So we do a lot of stuff together. So actually, my husband knows her since, we’ve been married 44 years, so I was 20 and she was 18, so she turned 19 after HHA# 00715 Page 5 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 5 Houston History Archives we got married. And, so he knows her. He’s like her brother, so we do a lot of stuff together. We go to, we visit her in Dallas all the time. She lives in Plano actually. So we do a lot of stuff. We go, like maybe every couple of months we visit her. She can’t come as often, because she owns her own business and it’s difficult to leave. So it’s easier for us to drive. We drive up there. We like it, yeah. Excuse me, I had a cold and its still, its lingering. KR: Another question I have about community, in the Greek community, or your family, what does that word mean for you? What do you think of when you hear community? EK: Community is mostly our friends. And we do, we have lots of Greek friends, actually. We don’t, we know a lot of American people. But we, we’re friends with our Greek friends. Actually, my daughter, both daughters got married to Americans. We see their mothers once in a while here and there, but we don’t have the closeness, that we have if my daughter married a Greek guy we would be doing stuff with their family. But with my daughters mother-in-law we don’t. We see them during the holidays maybe here and there and that’s it maybe once in a while a phone call. But that’s it. But so the Greek community is more knit its like tied together and you do things together and you feel you belong, which is nice, and it makes your kids actually, feel that they belong. You know it continues. And our grandkids are involved. My daughters, I have three granddaughters. And they all go to the AOS here. And now my granddaughters going to dance for the Greek festival the first time she’s seven so its like they come in here and you know, even when they were younger, “oh Yiayia, this is where we have the loukoumathes.” So it’s like you know, it’s nice when you are, together, you know. What’s the word I want to use, tight, and you just kind of feel you belong which makes your life simpler. KR: Do you think it’s a Greek thing? And why? EK: I don’t think it’s only Greek. I think it’s more European. Because the Italians are like this, I’m surprised actually there are some American families that are close, but its maybe their origin is from Europe. I don’t know but I think the Europeans are more close. The Americans because our, you know here it’s hustle, hustle, hustle everybody has to work and everybody is busy they don’t have time, so they become selfish with their time and they want to do stuff, things on their own. But with us, since we grew up in a different atmosphere, you know, we think that getting together with your sister or your neighbor or whatever is more fun than just sitting watching TV all by yourself. So that’s the difference. KR: We talked a little bit about what role food pays in your family. Do you think that connects to community and this European idea of belonging? EK: Oh yeah, oh yeah, definitely. You know as I said, its like you always have somebody come over, you always have somebody come eat with you or you go somewhere and You sit down and you think you’re going for an afternoon visit and its midnight and you’re still there talking and chit-chatting. And you know its fun, you sit out, especially overseas in Jordan where I grew up. It was the weather, we have four seasons, we had four seasons, because I live here now its like these days that we have now, the cool temperature and the humidity is low you can sit outside and the people are passing in front “oh, come one in come on in sit down” so everybody comes HHA# 00715 Page 6 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 6 Houston History Archives and sits down and you have two chairs and there’s six chairs then there’s ten chairs and lets make some more coffee and oh you know need to buy some more falafel, they’re going and I go to the falafel place. its all so close around buy some more falafel, bring it, and it goes like this and its nice because you talk and you’re not talking about anything in particular but you’re talking there’s always a story going around. So it’s really nice and that’s how it is. But as I said, it’s more I think the European. A lot of Americans are, but you know now with facebook nobody talks to anybody. Unfortunately. So I don’t have facebook. I deleted it. My computer goes delete delete delete. (laughs) Yeah trust me, I said somebody wants to talk to me pick up the phone and call me, or talk to me face to face. KR: Do you think that Greek food serves a purpose in the Houston community? And can you talk a little about that, maybe about the Greek Festival. EK: We have good food. You know, the Greek food is really good. So anything that you eat, you know, because it doesn’t have weird tastes. Our tastes are all something, like you know, something that everybody knows, all the spices are normal. The only thing that I think is a little bit different is the oregano. When we put it in stuff, because when the first time I tried it on our honeymoon in Athens I wanted to have a steak with French fries and all that, so I cut a piece of my meat and all of a sudden I thought, Nick says, “what’s going on?” I said, “this tastes weird.” Nick says, “you know what, I think it’s the oregano.” Because we ate oregano with sesame and whatever, just like you dip it, you dip your bread in the oil you dip in the oregano and eat it. It never was in the food, but you get used to it. If you have lamb, it has oregano in it, it has everything. And it enhances the meat. But I tell you. I don’t know, Is this the first year you are here for the festival? Well you’re in for a big surprise. I mean its going to be packed. People love it. Saturday night, especially with this weather, this time. Sometimes there is no room to pass, everybody is standing there eating the good food (hello), eating the good food and drinking the good wine. And it brings everybody together everybody looks forward to it. It’s really you know Greek food, and it’s not only the food it’s the people who make it, and it just becomes more, I don’t know, when you eat it you’re happy. Exactly. KR: Tell me more about the Greek Festival and how you became involved. EK: The Greek Festival, actually, as it says in our little brochure, actually 44 years ago they decided a few of the older people which are here now, to make a little extra money for the church. So they made some things and then they started, it was like ah, they didn’t call it festival then, it was like, [ ], or something like that and then they started the next year, everybody came. You know they heard Greek food and Greek music a lot of people came. The first Friday, I think they were running out of food so they stayed up all night making more food to sell the next day. So the next year they decided wait an minute we’re going to make more stuff so it goes on and on and on and its been growing. I became actually, I started being involved with the festival, I would come and help in the evenings only, my husband was making the loukoumathes, but I was not involved I was still working at my in-laws bakery. They had a bakery on San Felipe that sold Greek food and pastries. And I was just managing there. When it closed in ‘87, I came in to start helping, you know, with making stuff. So this lady says why don’t you become HHA# 00715 Page 7 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 7 Houston History Archives chairman of the pastries. I said I don’t know what to do. She said, I’ll teach you. Famous last words, 22 years later I’m still chairman of the pastries. (laughs) We got organized. I’m very organized. I have papers that tell me that this is how many pastries we made and this is how many we sold today and this is how many we sold last year the same day. And I have everything documented. So we have everything. I like organization. I like things to be organized. See we have everything in order here, our boxes is like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. So when I go to here I know I have 25 cases. I don’t have to count, because they’re right there in front of me. (pats one of the boxes) Stuff like that. So I’m involved. They got me on the board. I was chairman for about maybe 4 or 5 years. They saw how organized I was and all that and invited me on the board. And I’ve been on the board also ever since. KR: When were you on the board? EK: I was chairman, I became general chairman of the festival in 2001 so I was on the board about 3 years before that. KR: And that is the board for the Greek Festival. EK: Yes, for the Greek Festival. And we start meeting in February. Once a month, February, March April and we’re meeting once a month, and in September, now this month we meet once a week and this week we meet every night. KR: What do you talk about? EK: We talk everybody… First of all, there’s a million things that you have to take care of. You have permits, you have street closing permits, you have health department, you have the dance program, you have so many things, the metro… it’s not metro anymore, but the park and ride. Lamar High School, we have to arrange. So every person on the board has a duty. I’m responsible for pastries. There’s somebody responsible for the pre-sale tickets, somebody orders the wine. So we have all that and every time when we meet we all discuss this is what we did, and actually when the meeting is over the chairman asks, ok, what questions you have, she goes all around, and you have any other issues? This way we know what’s going on. You cannot make such a festival with just two meetings. There are a lot of decisions to be made. You have to order stuff; you have to… a lot of stuff, many details. And at the end it all falls into place and it happens. KR: Have you ever had any challenges that you remember particularly well? When something doesn’t go exactly right? EK: Well, the worst thing is if the weather is bad. And we did have one year, actually, the year before I was chairman in 2000. All of a sudden we got this cold front and it was like 53 degrees, drizzly the whole time. We didn’t sell half of our stuff. So the only thing that we did, we had a group of ladies that we were dancing Greek dancing ‘cause we had nothing else to do, it was very sad. That was the hardest thing so far. Actually, this year we have a new challenge. They HHA# 00715 Page 8 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 8 Houston History Archives wanted us to use cash registers verses just the money box. And our cashiers are old, most of them are older, we tried to train them but they’re having a hard time. And we’ll see. I told everybody, I’m going to riot. If my line goes to Westheimer, we’re getting the cash boxes out! That’s it! So we’ll see, I’m hoping it will work out. KR: Do you have any favorite memories of the festival? EK: Well actually, my favorite memory is the year I was chairman. Because I think I started… Everybody does their work very well, but I like to be organized. So that year I started having somebody take minutes when we were meeting. Because before I used to kind of just jot down… they would say, so we ordered this much wine so I would just write it down and all that, so the year after that I would say oh do you remember how much wine it was? And I would just flip the pages ok this is how much we ordered so it gave me the idea, ok. So there was somebody that was working with us and I told her, “Can you take minutes?” So she started taking minutes and we started a new tradition. So for me… and I got so many compliments that year. Actually my husband and I were chairman but I was actually the head he was just with me. And we got so many compliments on how organized it was and how everything was... And that year it was right after, it was the year we had 9/11 and we were the only festival that happened. The Mediterranean festival the other church that did cancelled theirs, because they were Arabs, they decided not to go for it so we had people, I remember I went up to the balcony the chapel balcony, and you couldn’t see the floor, I mean there were so many people, that you couldn’t see anything it was packed and it was the highest paying festival until then. So it was very gratifying, really. So it’s my favorite memory of course because I was the chairman. (laughs) KR: In addition to the organization, how do you think the Greek festival has changed since you’ve been involved? Or do you think it has changed? EK: Not really, it did change for the better. We always improve every year we do better every year we do better. Really, as I said you’re growing and you’re learning. And today you know more than yesterday, and on and on. So we always improve we keep on improving really. That’s why people love it. People will ask when are you going to have your festival because it’s really organized, we have so many volunteers, this lady that is talking, she cooks for us, we come and work and she cooks for us and she makes the best food and this is Noe, yes, so yeah, it really has improved all the time. And I tell you next year will probably be better than this year. The only thing is always a deterrent is if it rains. If it rains a lot, no matter what… Sometimes even with all the rain people are coming. But you know if it’s pouring, you know how it rains in Houston, if it rains it floods. This year thank god it’s a miracle we’re not going to have any rain and everyone is ecstatic. KR: You talked about people coming to volunteer. Who are the volunteers? EK: Members of our church, and not only that sometimes they bring their neighbors. They say Oh this is my neighbor, I brought her. And they love to come and they come one time and then they say oh you know what can we come again? And I say of course you can and I say yeah we’re going to teach you anything. So they learn how to make stuff. And they love the HHA# 00715 Page 9 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 9 Houston History Archives community, they say oh you have such a good time. I say of course we do. You know sometimes it’s like, you say I’m going to help one time. You go on Monday and you’re ready to leave and you say oh, I’ll come again. Your planning to come one day but you come two or three days. Because it’s so much fun you know it is work and you leave your household behind but you’re here and having a good time and all that and then you’re finished and then you go home. So yeah people come not only the Greeks that come they bring their neighbors. And we have a lot of men volunteer now. Yeah, a lot of them. There’s a young man actually. I can’t remember his name now he saw me yesterday again he has been coming to help. He remembers my name yesterday after church. We had a service, agiasmo. And he said Eleni, Eleni, so I turned around I’m going to be able to come Friday, he said do you need me? And I said yeah, I need you. So he can help come to the pastry booth and help us with you know sometimes you need somebody. To help pick up, those boxes are heavy, the koulouriakia maybe not as heavy as the baklava and the finikia because of the syrup, they’re heavy, so you need a man to help, we know move stuff for you and all that and our pastry booth is all the way in the back. KR: How do you think the church community and the Greek festival come together? What is the relationship of the church to the festival? EK: Well the festival actually, is, we’re not supposed to use it to augment the church expenses, but unfortunately is. It all you know depends on each other. The older people love the festival because they have somewhere to go. So it connects them to everybody. They know oh I’m so glad you’re doing this, because they have somewhere to go everyday. They come and eat their lunch they go home and they’re happy. And they know they’re going to come the next day. So the church depends on the community and the community depends on the church. So it’s all mixed together. And I don’t know if you know that we give quite a bit of money to charities from our income. We give I think 20-25 percent; actually on our brochure it mentions it. I’ll give you one and it says we decide there’s a committee that gets together and they mention how many organizations need help like Casa de Esperanza, etc. etc. And they try to decide ok we’re gong to give so many of them and we give a percentage of our income every year. So the festival doesn’t only profit, help our church it helps others also. KR: I guess to wrap it up; do you think there is anything else I should know, or that future researchers that are doing work on women and food or festivals in Houston, that you think should be on the record? EK: Let me see. You know, women and food, its like bread and butter. You can’t have women without having food, you can’t have food without having women involved in it. So it’s like, life goes around food. If you don’t have food, you know you get together, you go to a restaurant its to eat, you go to a house to eat, Christmas, holidays, whatever, so it’s all connected, so I don’t know what else to tell you about it. KR: Something I was curious actually is your family. You’re so involved, as a committee chair and your husband has co-chaired, how does the rest of your family get involved?HHA# 00715 Page 10 of 11 Interviewee: Kyriazis, Eleni Interview Date: October 4, 2010 University of Houston 10 Houston History Archives EK: Well they do actually, I have two daughters, and they help their dad. They work at the loukoumathes booth, because my husband is chairman of the loukoumathes. So they come, and actually our son-in law helps him and our other one used to but now he’s doing something else. So anyways they come and help with their dad. Actually before I started being chairman of the pastries I used to work with my husband with the loukoumathes, you know at night just help a little bit. And so when they got me to be chairman of the pastry booth, which I am trying to find someone to take over, a younger person. I was 42 when I started and I said I’m getting old. But yeah our whole family gets involved. And now our granddaughters are getting involved. We have our seven year old starting to dance, and the other two are 5 so eventually they’re going to get into it and eventually they’re going to start helping. It continues. KR: How did your husband start making loukoumathes? EK: Well my husbands family they, his dad, they had a bakery. So he knew about baking and all that so when he came one time to help they asked him to help with the loukoumathes. And he said yeah I know how to do that, So they were doing the loukoumathes with the hand you know with the spoon, spoon it one at a time, then someone got them the machine. Now they have it its all automatic, they just fill it up and the loukoumathes come on. And he just got involved into it. It’s like we say, every time every year he says this is my last year, my husband poor thing he’s 76 right now. And he’s still doing it. But now the younger people are getting involved, so he’s kind of preparing he just came yesterday and prepared everything and everything is set up, but the guys are going to be working, you know we have some people that do the dough the back. I know, it’s like my mom used to make us loukoumathes all the time, my dad never got in the kitchen. The only thing he ever did was make a cup of coffee, you know the Greek coffee. That was it. But now men are more involved. It’s like my son in law, both of them, they cook. My daughter works late sometimes. She works Tuesday and Thursdays late. So he cooks and feeds the kids. So it’s now men are so much more involved with cooking which is nice it’s very nice. My sister in law doesn’t like it. She’s old, she’s 84. She says, I think Dede should cook all the time. I said Eleni, if Dede works until 7:30 you think the kids are going to be waiting for their mother to come home and make a meal and eat at 9? By 8 o’clock they’re ready to go to sleep, so you have to share. KR: That’s nice. EK: Yeah. So that’s it? KR: I think so! EK: I hope I answered whatever you like. I’m a talkative person. KR: I’m glad, it was great. It was so nice to talk to you. EK: Thank you.