Love: the secret spice that goes into thousands of treats each year during the annual St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Churchs Greek pastry and sweet bread sale.
Steven J. Kalamaras said it takes as much dedication and patience to make pastries as it does each required ingredient.
Its the way you put the ingredients together, and the syrup on the baklava, he said Friday, during the first day of the sale at the church. I used to make it for myself at home. Now we just buy from here and help the church out.
St. Vasilios, 502 Franklin St., hosts the two-day sale each December to raise funds for the salary of the small churchs part-time priest and other needs. A similar, one-day sale is held each spring.
Mr. Kalamaras, who is known as the baklava king at the sale, said he oversees the making of the classic Greek pastry with layers of filo dough and a walnut mixture, covered with honey syrup.
Other offerings include: kourambiethes, an almond holiday cookie with powdered sugar; flutes, rolled layers of filo dough and a walnut mixture dipped in honey syrup; kataifi, a shredded wheat pastry rolled in a walnut mixture and dipped in honey syrup; finikia, a walnut holiday cookie dipped in honey syrup; and koulourakia, a butter-twist cookie covered with sesame seeds.
Also for sale are spanakopita, a spinach pie made with layers of filo dough and spinach with a feta cheese mixture, and sweet bread, a braided loaf made with mahlepi, a spice made from kernels of fruit pits from a cherry and covered with sesame seeds.
The sale continues at 9 a.m. today until everything is sold out. Most items range from $1 to $2 each. One dozen koulourakia are $4, and the spanakopita are $16.
As one customer waited, he said he drops a few hundred bucks at the sale each year, but worried whether younger generations would carry on the tradition.
Mr. Kalamaras said the church has been trying to recruit younger members who may help with the sale. Ms. Thomas said some are away at college, and the churchs youth members are too young to help.
Lisa A. BonDurant, Watertown, said she feels the love and kindness from people who prepare the goodies and those who help organize the event, such as the Thomas family: Olga M., Samuel S., and Christina Athanasiou.
Its phenomenal, she said, looking at the piles of pastries as church members helped pack them in boxes. I get enough and I freeze them, and we get it Christmas morning.
Her favorite pastry is the finikia, but baklava and kourambiethes are not too far behind. As she explained how her husband recently died, she shed tears and was greeted with a hug from Olga Thomas.
Finikia was his favorite; wed eat that frozen, she said.
Mrs. BonDurant said shell have an extra piece for him this Christmas.