…..when rose sugar met the bergamot, A fairytale of sweetness and flavor


Mastic: The most precious tear drop

The memories of our childhood are adorned with colours, sounds, flavors and scents. They are our heritage that lives within us like a valuable possession of an age of innocence and love. The reminiscences of sweet temptations are imprinted deep inside us as an inseparable part of our existence. No one can forget the sweetness and colour of the quince spread on a slice of bread, the sweet awakening of greediness caused by the scent of the freshly cooked steamy sour cherry, the soft velvet sense left in the mouth by the pistachio.

The remembrance pauses to the punishment imposed by Granny when we dunk our hand in the jar with the fig or the sour orange which was well hidden in the cupboard. We are overwhelmed by the thoughts of the amazing rolled sour oranges garlands we used to make when they were ready to be cooked and get their wonderful golden colour. There are also the memories of the ritual that had to be followed in the serving. An embroidered linen was laid on the silver tray waiting for the jar which contained the treasure-the grape, the walnut or the eggplant. All were served with silver spoons or forks in crystal plates which were tiny like children’s toys.

We remember the jokes that were told in Soirees, about that peasant from the North of Chios who, on his way to the town (Hora), stopped to the Monastery of Mersinidi to get some rest. The Prior of the Monastery following the Greek-Orthodox habits, welcomed him in the guest quarter and offered him a jar of rose sugar (rose petals sweet). The peasant, apparently ignoring the serving habits, ate almost all the content of the jar and apologetically said to the Monastery prior “I can’t stand eating any more Prior”. “Man”, answered the Prior “you should have eaten a spoonful not the whole jar”.

There is also the story of a gourmand aunt who took secretly a jar of bergamot in her bed at night but then she got exposed in the morning because the syrup had been spread all over her clothes and bed linen. It is the sweetness of the recipes that the housewives boastfully exchanged and the small secrets, sometimes spoken and sometimes untold, about how the lemon flower can get a beautiful white colour, how the syrup of the mandarin can best thicken and how the cherry can become crispy. It is the painstaking and demanding procedure to make mandarin juice, sour cherry juice or orange juice and on special occasions –wedding, baptism, celebration- the famous bitter almond juice (soumada).

All these memories are revived, they blink the eye to us and call us to re- experience them. Nowadays that time is little and valuable and women work out of the house, we look for these things not in the kitchen of our grandmother but in tasting the sweets and juices of Korakis-Marinos company. These are products made for us with excessive care, following tradition, giving us the opportunity to try and enjoy a great variety of tastes. And these are memory tastes, scents of a tradition that bind the past with the future.