My Big Fat Greek Wedding is another in a long history of wedding comedies that understand the significance of food. Like many Mediterranean cultures, Greek life centers around food and family, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which comes first. While putting family life and conflict squarely center stage, this film does not neglect the foods that are such a central feature of Greek life. The Portokalos family operates—what else?—a Greek diner called Dancing Zorba’s. Toula’s mother sends her kids to school with moussaka (a minced meat pie with tomatoes and eggplant) in their lunch bags. When meeting the parents of Toula’s fiancé for the first time, Maria Portokalos serves spanakopita (pie with spinach, feta cheese, onion, eggs, and seasonings) and lamb roasted on a spit, even though the guests are the stereotypical WASP family and not prepared for the effusiveness of their Greek in-laws-to-be. As one might glean from these examples, these Greeks like to feed people—in fact, it’s a point of hospitality with them to make sure that no guest has an empty plate and that no one goes home hungry!
Toula: My mom was always cooking foods filled with warmth and wisdom…and never forgetting that side dish of steaming-hot guilt.
Maria Portokalos: Niko, don't play with the food. When I was your age, we didn't have food.
Aunt Voula: When you come to my house and I cook for you?
Toula: Thia, that might be a problem.
Aunt Voula: Problem? I’m the best cook in the family. Tell him.
Toula: I did, didn’t I?
Aunt Voula: OK, then.
Toula: It’s just…
Aunt Voula: Yeah?
Toula: Ian is a vegetarian. He doesn’t eat meat.
Aunt Voula: He don’t eat no meat?
Toula: No, he doesn’t eat meat.
Aunt Voula: What do you mean, “He don’t eat no meat”? [the entire room suddenly goes silent, in shock] That's OK, I’ll make lamb. Come.
Gus Portokalos: I was thinking last night … the night before my daughter was going to marry Ian Miller … that the root of the word “miller” is a Greek word. And “miller” come from the Greek word milo, which is mean "apple." There you go. As many of you know, our name Portokalos is come from the Greek word portokali, which means "orange." So, okay here tonight, we have apple and orange. We all different but, in the end, we all fruit.
Maria Portokalos: Ian, are you hungry?
Ian Miller: No, I already ate.
Maria Portokalos: Okay, I make you something.
Nia Vardalos originally developed the concept for this film as her own one-woman stage show.
Starring Nia Vardalos as Toula Portokalos, Michael Constantine as Gus Portokalos, Lainie Kazan as Maria Portokalos, John Corbett as Ian Miller, Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula, Louis Mandylor as Nick Portokalos, Gia Carides as Cousin Nikki, Joey Fatone as Angelo, and Ian Gomez as Mike
Awards: 2003 Grand Prix Alpe d’Huez International Comedy Film Festival (Joel Zwick); 2003 Discover Screenwriting Award American Screenwriters Association, USA (Nia Vardalos); 2003 BMI Film Music Award (Alexander Janko and Chris Wilson); 2003 Canadian Comedy Award for Film—Pretty Funny Female Performance (Vardalos); 2003 Russell Smith Award from Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Association (Zwick); 2003 Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award for Best Contemporary Makeup—Feature (Ann Brodie); 2003 Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance (Vardalos); 2003 Visionary Award from PGA (Rita Wilson); 2003 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Motion Picture; 2003 Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Newcomer (Vardalos); 2003 Golden Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical (Michael Constantine); 2003 Audience Award for Comedy Film of the Year and 2003 Comedy Film Honor for Best Independent Comedy Film from U.S. Comedy Arts Festival; and 2002 Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay (Vardalos)