Ever noticed how Greeks, love to add the ending “-aki” to all that is dear to them? This way for example the name Marina becomes “Marinaki”, nero (water) becomes “neraki”, krasi (wine) becomes “krasaki” and of course the same happens with psomi (bread) which one will often meet in our vocabulary under the name “psomaki”!
Greeks, absolutely adore bread – their dear psomaki!
Since ancient times, bread was considered very important to the dietary habits and had, and still has, a very important place on the daily table, next to the main course, whether this is a salad, or a soup, or meat, or even pasta. Greeks love to dip their bread into any food that has fluid – they may attempt to convince you that their piece of bread landed in the salad plate by accident – thus, creating the, famous among the Greeks, “papara”! (That’s a Greek word especially invented to describe the soaked piece of bread!)
Greeks consider bread so important, that they use it in the daily life expressions, replacing other, very important words with it. For example, Greeks don’t say “I earn a living”, but they say “I earn mine (or my family’s) bread” or, when they want to show how close, dear and old friend someone is, they often use the expression “we’ve shared bread and olives” (meaning that they’ve shared good but also bad times).
One only needs to visit a traditional Greek bakery early in the morning, to discover the dozens of delicious recipes Greeks have invented: Starting from the morning “koulouri” (which by the way, will be your first probe if you join our food tour, since it constitutes breakfast for most Athenians), to the various types of bread such as multigrain, traditional or even the bread created from zeas flour (by the recipe of the ancient Greeks), or the tasty cheese-bread (bread with feta cheese filing), the divine olive bread or the raisin-buns and the various rusks.
The Cretans make extra-large round rusks, “dakos” they call them (if you join our food tour, you will taste them as well!), and they love to prepare with them a special but so uniquely simple meal: They soak their dakos in pure tasty Cretan olive oil and top them with ripe chopped tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, some oregano and caper. Try this recipe at home and at best, accompany it with a glass of Cretan raki!
The Orthodox church has also adopted bread (“artos”) in its ceremonies and various celebrations: The Greek Orthodox Eucharistic Bread or Communion bread, (an especially well kneaded loaf of bread stamped with a special cross stamp) part of which, after being blessed by the priests, will be used in the holy communion representing the body of Christ, will be shared amongst the congregation. And on major Holidays, such as Christmas and Easter Sunday, the bakeries will prepare “Christ-bread”. On Clean Monday, people will eat the “Lagana” (flat bread).
Of course, the bread tradition, could not be missing from our Cooking Lesson and Dinner either, where, upon arrival, you’ll be treated with a traditional “tsipouro” accompanied with local cheese and delicious freshly baked bread!
But no matter how much one analyses it, to my opinion, there’s only one way to discover the value of bread:
On a hot summer day, after you’ve joined one of our lovely Walking tours, have climbed up to the Acropolis and maybe even gone for further exploration to the Acropolis Museum or the Agora and feel this sweet fatigue that comes with the fulfillment of your goal to offer nourishment to your mind and soul, don’t go back to your hotel just yet! Wander in the picturesque, old quarter of Athens that lies at the foot of the Acropolis, the Plaka. Find yourself the shadiest and coolest, neat tavern, make yourself comfortable and order, just one Greek salad and a glass of wine! Surely the salad will be accompanied by bread! Allow yourself to “get messy” by creating your own “papara” and enjoy your afternoon meal knowing that the only thing you’ll have to worry about afterwards will be your long, traditional, Greek “siesta” till the evening! Surely you will discover, my friend, that this, is happiness!