GREEK BAKERIES - FOURNOS
You will find Greek Bakeries - Fournos, in every village and neighbourhood in Greece.
The Greek Bakery has always played
an important role in every day Greek life, providing Greek Breads for every religious holiday.
The Greek word for Bakery is
Fournos which means "Oven".
Not only is
Greek Bread - Psomi,
every meal, it has such a greater significance to all Greeks. Bread literally is the sustenance of life. Being a country that has
lived through great poverty - in those poor times bread kept people alive.
In a religious country as Greece, it also plays a huge
religious significance. There is a special bread to be made for every Christian occasion - name days, fasting days, days of
remembrance, feast days, holy days including Christopsomo for Christmas
Bread is made in many shapes, all of them significant for the purpose they are celebrating.
Christopsomo will either be in the
shape of a cross or have a cross marked on top.
Tsoureki is made up of three strands braided together to represent the Holy
Trinity. Other shapes include star shaped bread, circular ring shapes and knotted bread.
Some bread is made from wheat, but barley and corn is also used for many Greek breads. Greek Bread has always been made
using the starter method, which gives it that weighty feel to it. As well as coming in many shapes, there are many flavourings
added to breads, sweet and savoury bread, fruit bread, currants and sultanas are popular additions, orange rind for flavour as well
as sesame seeds and aniseed.
With food being used to celebrate every occasion, its probably not surprising to find there are many Greek sayings comparing
life with bread.
Another important role of Greek bakeries in recent Greek history, when families were poor and didn't own ovens, women would
prepare their trays of food for that day's meal and take it to the local bakery.
The baker, once he had finished baking his bread for
the day, would then put these large trays of food from the villagers into the large ovens for cooking.
If you passed near a bakery around
midday when many of these meals were almost ready you would be greeted with the pleasant aroma of the baked food wafting
down the street.
Then, as if by clockwork, you would see all the Greek housewives scurrying out of their houses to the bakery,
to collect their cooked food, greet all the other women and then return home! A daily occurence in every village!
When you are in Greece, you must visit a Greek bakery. The Greek bread is very different to the bread you would have tasted
The most popular type is called Horiatiki Psomi - a country or rustic loaf. It has a dense, thick dough, very flavoursome. Dry enough
to dip in the Greek salad
moist enough to eat on its own. The Greeks don't spread butter on their bread. The outside
has a thick hard crust. When toasted and drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano - there is no better flavour.
Paximadia is a type of rusk, that you can get from most bakeries. They are very tasty, made from barley or whole wheat. They are very popular in Crete, although
now you will find them all over Greece, in bakeries and supermarkets.
After cooking, they are left to cool, thickly sliced, then
cooked a second time to create a very
hard, dry rusk.
These can then be kept dry in the pantry for months until you wish to eat them.
To eat, first soak them in a bowl
of water to hydrate them, then drain and wrap in a clean tea towel to absorb any excess liquid. They are then soft and ready to eat.
Our favourite recipe using paximadia is to drizzle with olive oil, then shake some salt, pepper and oregano over the oil. A couple of
thin slices of tomatoes or grated tomato and top with crumbled feta. A perfect snack!
There are many other treats to eat for snacks in Greek bakeries. Some will sell pies, there will be sweet and savoury rolls, paximathia
rusks, biscuits and cakes. Just the aroma drifting down the street will surely have your taste buds watering and pull you in
before you even realised you were hungry!
If you're looking for a quick midday snack, to keep you going whilst on your travels the best you can get is a fresh loaf of bread,
a chunk of feta, a couple of fresh tomatoes and a handful of olives. Sit under the shade of an olive tree with a view of the Greek
countryside, throw in a bottle of wine and you are in Greek Heaven!
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