Lili Fable was up to her elbows in dough.
“We have a woman who’s picking up 115 small tsourekis,” said Fable, co-owner of Poseidon Bakery, which has been making traditional Greek Easter breads since opening in Hell’s Kitchen 86 years ago.
“They’re like a tiny braid with an egg in the center.”
But the star of the holiday is the larger braided bread called the kouloura. The bakery’s small kitchen churns out hundreds of loaves in the two weeks leading up to the holiday, which Fable noted is the biggest religious celebration on the Greek Orthodox calendar.
“It’s just good fun, good eating, good wine, laughter, singing, kids in and out,” she said. “It’s an old-fashioned, family holiday.”
Though most of the Greek families who once lived near Poseidon have moved away, many return to the Ninth Avenue bakery for the holiday. For those who live too far away for a quick trip, the bakery ships the breads anywhere in the country.
“Between four and five hundred loaves go throughout the country,” Fable said. “As far away as Honolulu, Hawaii, to Seattle, to California, wherever a Greek family has moved.”
Fable said the unchanged recipe keeps customers returning for a taste of home.
“I think it’s a remembrance of things past,” she said. “I think when you have special things your holiday becomes much more important.”
Though the work is tiring, Fable, who has been on the job for 47 years, has no plans to retire.
“We’re glad when it’s over, we’re glad when we’ve made these things that have made so many people happy, and I cannot imagine not doing it,” she said.