How Not to Share Greek Culture with the World: The Gyro Eating World Championship


Well today is the big day… on full display at the Houston Greek Festival, the Gyro Eating Championship— and not just any championship, this one has been self-dubbed the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!

This story popped up on my Facebook newsfeed and I, like most people probably would have, clicked to see what the deal was.

Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed… Maybe I’m just too sensitive. I don’t know.

But I think this is disgusting. Not only because it’s a continuation of the “dumbing down” and “porking up” of America that is hot in the media lately— but because this is exactly the opposite way to showcase and promote Greek culture and culinary heritage to masses of Americans that this festival will certainly attract.

For starters— what happened to gluttony being one of the deadly sins? Or doesn’t that apply to the Greek Orthodox Church in Houston since they’re using the festival to raise money? (Reminds me of the bingo years when our church hall in Pittsburgh was used for bingo (aka gambling) to make money from the neighborhood folk– but this was OK because it funded the church…).

But hey, I’m not the most devout and best Greek Orthodox Christian and won’t hang this opinion post on religion. Who am I to speak about this, after all… I’m just an out of touch sinner.

Let’s instead talk about what kind of message this sends to the masses of people— 6,000 visitors at last year’s festival— who will attend and watch the revelry of the Gyro eating “world championship”.

Is this a real exhibition of who we are, what we eat and what Greek culture and cuisine really represents? Furthermore, whatever happened to one of the sagest bits of Greek advice on the world– that of “pan metron ariston” or everything in moderation.

To be fair, the festival does also showcase church tours, Greek folk dancing and certainly other “Greek” delicacies on the menu like “pastichio” and Greek pizza with— what else? gyro meat and feta cheese.

Am I being too uptight? Should I lighten up?

What’s next, dump the community clown into a giant vat of tzatziki? Or a dolma-throwing contest?

Don’t get me wrong… I love a good gyro— especially a good sandwich made with meat from my friends at Grecian Delight Foods. I love getting the grocery store packet and eating the sandwich in the comfort of my own home and also grub down on a sandwich when I get a chance when I visit Greektown in my hometown of Chicago.

But a gyro eating contest? C’mon people— we have better things to share with the world than a showcase of gluttony and slobbery. This isn’t my idea of spreading Greek culinary heritage with the masses and certainly not becoming of a Greek Orthodox Church to be hosting such a display of gluttony.

Go ahead… tell me to chill out. Call me a snob or an elitist. I can take it.


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