Hummus Where the Heart Is

The 33rd Annual Lebanese Food Festival in Glen Allen.

What better way to spend a spring day than by enjoying the rich cultural traditions of your neighbors? Especially if the menu includes warm dough drizzled with orange blossom and rose water-sweetened syrup. One bite of zalabia, a delicately flavored, donut-like sweet fritter, will leave your mouth watering for more.

At the annual Lebanese Food Festival, hosted by St. Anthony’s Maronite Church in Glen Allen and originated 33 years ago by Monsignor George M. Sebaali, you’ll find zalabia and more. The 3-day festival will be held May 19-21, offering visitors a close look at the food and heritage of the Richmond area’s Lebanese community.

In addition to zalabia, which is said to bring good luck to those who eat it, other sweet treats include kataif, thin crepe-like pancakes wrapped around fillings of cheese, cream or nuts, and baklava. Visitors to the pastry table will find even more baked goods to consume on the spot or—for those with more restraint—take home.

But it’s not all about the sweets: Savory dishes like falafel wraps, shish kebab, shawarma, bubbaghanooge and spinach and feta pies are also available, along with hummus, meat-filled grape leaves and tabouli salad. The festival’s newest menu offering, Lebanese-style pizza, is prepared on an oven-baked flatbread spiced with thyme, oregano, and sumac. All food is prepared by church volunteers with family recipes that have often been passed down for generations. Beer and wine imported from Lebanon will also be available.

Entertainment is provided on the outdoor stage, with dancers and musicians of all ages performing Lebanese folk dances and music—including the sounds of the oud, a traditional stringed instrument, and the dumbeiek, a barrel drum that, according to parish member and volunteer Sandra Brown, “Resounds the influence and heartbeat of our culture.” StAnthonyMaroniteChurch.org/


The festival runs Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Admission is free, food is priced per item.

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