November 26, 2014
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Ladies Philoptochos Society revives tradition with Progressive Dinner
Herald photos by Pete Fontaine
SUPERB SETTING: Anna Demetrakas, seated front left, and her daughter Marianne Janigian hosted the cocktails/appetizer portion of the Ladies Philoptochos Society Progressive Dinner last Saturday night at her home in Cranston. She’s joined by fellow members who enjoyed the once storied tradition at three different locations.

They visited two beautiful and spacious homes – two of which had uniquely designed in-ground swimming pools – surrounded by extraordinary landscaping that created a special secluded suburban setting.

They were treated to three different table settings, two on picturesque patios and the other on a screened-in outdoor living area that was transformed into a well-appointed dining room.

They enjoyed everything from pan-tossed loukaniko, lemonade and red sangria with fruit to pulled pork and spicy grilled chicken breasts, along with delicious desserts like yellow cake topped with whipped cream and assorted fruits.

They enjoyed all of the above – as well as unmatched camaraderie – at one of those “For Women Only” socials.

This was last Saturday afternoon and evening, when the Ladies Philoptochos Society of Cranston’s Church of the Annunciation held an old-fashioned Progressive Dinner.

What, though, is a Progressive Dinner?

“It’s a dinner party with successive courses at different people’s homes,” Georgia J. Pappas, current president of the Greek Orthodox parish’s Ladies Philoptochos Society, explained. “In our case, we had late afternoon cocktails at one location, then drove to another member’s home for dinner and enjoyed dessert at a third location.”

Last Saturday’s Progressive Dinner was, Pappas remembers, “something our Society did for years. And they used to be successful fundraiser, too.”

However, she also explained: “As times changed and people’s schedules became more and more demanding, the suppers became history. Tonight was a fun time for everyone, especially sitting in three of our members’ gorgeous backyards enjoying appetizers, dinner, dessert and fellowship.”

Perhaps even more unique, Pappas related, is that “we all paid $25 to cover the dinner expenses, and just may have made a few bucks in the process.”

And raising money – in sometimes large sums – is something that the Ladies Philoptochos Society has become widely-known for, along with its philanthropic work in communities where there’s a Greek Orthodox parish.

Pappas, who wanted to bring back many of the Society’s “old ways and fundraisers,” concluded: “Who knows; maybe this will again become an annual event.”

When other Society members learn what went on at the homes of Anna Demetrakas and Marianne Janigian, Marianne Phelan and Josie Aliferakis and Karen Drager with an assist from Bessie Papigiotis, they’re probably wish they’d have been there.

Demetrakas and Janigian hosted the cocktails and appetizer segment on tables set up on a picturesque outdoor patio. The menu included an unusual display of hummus with pita bread, Greek meatballs with Tzatziki sauce, look-alike (Greek sausage), feta cheese and kalamata olives, cheddar cheese and crackers and lemonade and red sangria with fruit.

Then it was off to Phelan’s home, where the ladies were immediately impressed with the Southern-themed table setting in a screened-in room that’s usually used as an outdoor living room of shorts.

“Martha Stewart doesn’t have anything on you, Marianne,” Society members told Phelan as she began setting out eight different foods.

Phelan’s table was covered with white linen cloths, tan craft paper with a burlap table runner, mason jars that contained silverware, straws, a bandana and hand wipes.

The dinner included pulled pork, grilled barbecue chicken filets with various barbecue sauces, potato and macaroni salads, a country salad with tomato, cucumber, red onion and lettuce, Southern baked beans, corn bread and homemade biscuits and corn on the cob with honey and seasoned butter, as well as sweet and peach ice tea and lemonade.

The next stop was dessert, and Aliferakis, Drager and Papigiotis put out a selection like those seen on the Food and Travel channels.

There was carrot cake, lemon crumb cake, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, yellow cake topped with whipped cream and assorted fruits, cheese cake bars, make-it-your-self ice cream sundaes, assort candies, coffee and liqueurs.

“So what’s next on the agenda?” a society member queried and got an immediate reply from others saying: “A diet, perhaps!”

It was indeed a caloric caper extraordinaire, an event that brought back and old-time Philoptochos custom, one that’s as tradition-rich as the Church of the Annunciation’s annual Cranston Greek Festival that will make its 29th appearance from Sept. 5-7 at 175 Oaklawn Ave.

And during that three-day event, each and every Philoptochos Society member will take on a different role to help showcase their proud Greek heritage.


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