local-kiwi-alien

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Dry Bread


Catherine (Katerina) in her fresh bread shop  on the waterfront next to the meat market. 

 This is the place for the best assortment of your freshest daily bread or the traditional koulouri or sesame seed roll that every greek loves to eat in the morning. She also sells paximathia, bread which is sliced and baked for a second time till hard and dry.  Next door are her cheese, spinach and other little savoury pies.  Her husband's family have been selling bread from this same shop for many, many years. 

Catherine's English is excellent of course being another local-alien. 

Paximathia -
 twice baked bread made traditionally from whole wheat, rye or barley flour. Nowadays they are found in bags in the supermarket baked with olives, oregano or oil and made with white flour. In shops like Catherine's you buy them by the kilo. 

My mother-in-law would make them now and again, slicing her sourdough bread and baking it again in a slow oven till hard and dry. My father, being a naval man, would have called it hard-tack. 

Paximathi


Everyone in the Greek family loves these, or just chunks of plain old stale bread, especially for dunking in sauces or mopping up the oil and juices at the bottom of a plate of greens. Sometimes fresh fluffy bread just does not make the grade.

My father-in-law would take these with him when he was away in the fields or working far from home. They last forever, don't go mouldy or stale and are an extremely healthy meal with a handful of olives, a raw onion, a clove of garlic and fresh oregano or whatever wild herbs you can forage. Mediterranean diet at it's finest.

You do need to dip them quickly in water or even wine before eating them otherwise they are so hard you'll break a tooth.

In Crete they are a speciality called dako which I have written about before. The big round ones they call 'koukouvayia' or owl.  The Cretans spread grated tomato , lots of their own virgin olive oil, feta or some other strong local cheese over them.




Cretan dakos, a photo I have posted before



They are also great broken up and put on the bottom of the plate under a Greek salad. The crunchy little pieces absorb all the juices and oil from the salad and are delicious.

Don't confuse them with friganies which are also twice baked bread but much thinner and crisp not hard. The Greeks love to eat these for breakfast. K prefers them with a light covering of honey or homemade jam, without butter or margarine.


Friganies.  They are rather fragile and as you can see break up easily, usually just as you're spreading the butter. A plate of broken dried bread is not my favourite way to start the day. 

While trying to come up with an English name for these fragile slices of dried bread I came upon Dorset knobs. Made only during the months of January and February and used in a throwing competition on the first Sunday in May. So what on earth are these, Elaine?

18 comments:

  1. I was recently given a large (very decorative) tin of Dorset Knobs, and frankly throwing them would be the best use.

    I don't remember eating Greek breads, but always love trying new ones.

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    1. Chuckle. They sounded just like these dry Greek paximathia. You have to be brought up to eat them or have no darn alternative. Maybe I should start a throwing competition here

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  2. PS at least the tin will come in handy

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  3. Paximathia would definitely take a few teeth if not dunked!
    Nothing nicer than dipping your bread into the bottom of the salad bowl or with a bowl full of stew!

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    1. Mmm or with stew, you are darned right. K just wets them a bit and eats them for breakfast. You really have to be greek to do that.

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  4. I have had dakos many times on holiday when sailing. with tomatoes and olive oil. Mainly for breakfast or lunch. Never thought about putting them at the bottom of a salad. Like a reverse crouton...?

    Would the very thin slices be something like melba toast?

    http://www.meulenholland.com/melba-toast-supplier/toonitem/54180/54213/Melba-toast-supplier.html

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    1. Definitely like a reverse crouton..right on! Worth trying. They certainly dont go soggy.

      Melba toast is close to what these friganies are like. We always have a packet or two around for emergencies (when I forget to buy or make some bread). K cannot eat a meal without bread, even if it is the tooth breaking kind lol.. Italians put stale bread underneath their salads, same sort of thing. Soaks up the juices without sogging out

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  5. I'm not sure if I'd like it or not, I like my bread fresh and fluffy. I do like Melba toast though which is sort of hard and crunchy, though also breaks easily xx

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    1. I prefer fresh and fluffy bread but around here the preference is for something more 'substantial'. They prefer dense sourdough to soft and fluffy. I have got used to these over the years but prefer fresh, definitely.

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  6. I love seeing food from different regions of the UK and Ireland and Europe. Never been to Greece or it's islands. Is it expensive to live there?

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  7. It is expensive for us now but there are an awful lot of expat Brits who live here permanently and find it cheaper. Maybe a bit different now the pound is almost level with the euro. Food is cheaper, eating out is much cheaper. Alcohol is dirt cheap as long as you dont mind drinking the local harvest, buying it a litre at a time in a plastic bottle from your elederly neighbour.

    We live on my husbands (greek ) pension which was cut in half in 2012. We learnt to live on it and be happy!

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    1. Hey Ray, from a Brits point of view, where we have friends and we sail from when we go, its an area called Porto Heli (sorry I dont know if that is the correct spelling. We have toyed with the idea of Greece to move to at some point. Especially when there are very good priced houses

      http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-50969138.html

      We found fresh food, veg and fish to be quite cheap, compared to the UK. Cheaper than france.

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    2. Hi Sol. Porto help is just down the road from us...an hour or so. Nice little harbour, great area, especially for expats..lots of Germans own homes down there.

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    3. I love Spetses and Nafplion - wow the jewellery there was amazing. And we had a very short trip in Sparti/Sparta. Cant go to Greece and not see Sparta! We have sailed around all of the Greek Islands now. Just the 2 of us and a 33 foot yacht. Porto Heli is where the yacht went over on to the rocks!!!

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    4. Nafplio is a great place. It is our nearest big city....small as it is. We go there for coffee, the hospital, the old town. Love those shops, they are just a little different from the usual tourist crap.

      2 of you and a 33 ft yacht. That sounds as though you know what you're doing ... so what happened on the rocks? No wonder you could relate to those yachts that were holed in the storm on Poros!!

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  8. You know me so well! My father would certainly have called the hard bread, ship's biscuits/hard tack, too. The sea was in his blood and he would regale us with stories of ship's biscuits with maggots inside. Strangely, that didn't quite put me off wanting to try a ship's biscuit, minus the protein, of course.

    I would love to shop at both of Catherine's shops - bread and pies! The very thought of breaking off some bread to mop up the juices at the bottom of the salad bowl makes me hungry. When I was a child we would joust for position to mop up the juices from a pan in which liver and onions had been fried, it was delicious. Thank goodness for bread, of every kind.

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  9. My father was in the British navy during the war. Once a navy man always a navy man.

    We mopped up gravy with bread..best part of the meal. My mother tried to stop that habit. I already had 'baby fat' well after the baby stage. Half of the bread experience is the smell..overpoweringly delicious!! And now we bake our own..doomed!

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