Now anyone from Greece is probably already familiar with all of these, but for the two of us, Christmas in another country presents the perfect opportunity to try new foods, particularly those only served during or around the holiday. So far, we’ve been able to try to try the following:
1. Potato starch gruel with cinnamon and syrup– trust us, it’s better (at least slightly) than it sounds (or looks.) This dessert is served by men and women who work at pushcarts, and while we have yet to see it in Athens, it’s all the rage in Thessaloniki. Instead of merely pouring it into a cup, the vendor pours it between the two cups, demonstrating the ‘stretchiness’ of the mastic (a gum harvested from pistachio trees.)
2. Kourabeides (buttery almond shortbread covered in powdered sugar) — not only do these small cookies pack a buttery punch, they include whole almonds as well as almond flour. The best of them have a higher percentage almond flour.
3. Melomakarona (honey cookies with nuts on top of them) — almost a mini-cake, these treats can be served as is or in a chocolate-covered form.
4. Tsoureki — a brioche bread, served braided with sesame seeds on top, or stuffed with filling (chocolate, hazelnut, or chestnut), and if stuffed, covered in a thin icing of the same flavor (often with a second flavor drizzled on top.) The braided shape reminded us of challah, though the flavor of the bread is sweeter.