Macedonia, the famous country of Alexander, the country who expelled the barbarians and is free now. You are and you will be Greek, the pride of Greeks and we will face you proud again. The Macedonians cannot live enslaved even if they lost everything their freedom remains. Little Macedonian children dance and rejoice before you too suffer in this world.Traditional Greek song
As you will have already understood, the next book in the series Εδεσματολόγιον of Savalas Publishers that we will study is the Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας by Efi Grigoriadou.
The author writes in the prologue of the book that the Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας is a small contribution to the national debt to preserve our historical and cultural identity. We also hope with our small article to put a little stone in this effort. In our new article, then, we will travel to Macedonia through its history and its eating habits and we will make a delicious traditional revani.
Macedonia is a region with an ancient history. According to the Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας, there has been life in the area since prehistoric times. The first people to live in Macedonia were nomadic hunters living in caves. From the middle of the 6th BC. millennium the inhabitants began to organize the first permanent residences, to tame animals and to cultivate the land. Thus they were transformed from hunters to producers.
In ancient times, starting with the region of Pieria, below Olympus, the state of the Macedonians expanded with Aiges as its capital. At the end of the 6th century BC the Persians attempted the subjugation of Macedonia.
Around 400 BC the capital from the plain of Imathia was transferred to Pella on the shores of the Thermaic Gulf. Pella developed into the most brilliant city of Macedonia. Alexander the Great, one of the most important figures in world history, was born and raised there. As an ambitious general, Alexander the Great led the Macedonian-led Greek army to the ends of the then known world and created a vast empire from Greece to India.
In Roman times, Macedonia was annexed early to the Roman Empire. Around 130 BC the Via Egnatia was built. Thessaloniki became the capital of Macedonia. During the early Byzantine years, the most important urban centers of Macedonia developed along Via Egnatia, such as Thessaloniki, Philippi and Acropolis.
Macedonia suffered many invasions by the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Slavs and the Bulgarians. In the 9th century the Thessalonian brothers Cyril and Methodius dealt with the Christianization of the Slavs, as a result of which peace prevailed and Thessaloniki became a great commercial, administrative and spiritual center.
A period of unrest and civil war between the emperors followed. At the end of the Byzantine period the empire split into competing states. In post-Byzantine times, important cities in Macedonia were Thessaloniki, Veria, Serbia, Edessa, Kastoria, Serres and Drama. In 1246 Macedonia was annexed to the Empire of Nicaea, which was one of the successor states of the Byzantine Empire.
In 1420 Macedonia was conquered by the Ottomans, resulting in political and social regression. From 1821 to 1828 the Macedonians participated in the common struggle of the Greeks. The two Balkan wars followed and shortly afterwards Greece became involved in the First World War. The Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 defined the borders of Greece and was followed by population exchanges with Turkey and Bulgaria. Thousands of refugees from Asia Minor, Pontus and Thrace came and changed the character of the region.
The refugees brought with them customs, habits, values and taste. Especially the refugees from Asia Minor contributed to the development of agriculture and trade and brought a different image to everyday life, more creative, more intense and more colorful.
Of course, the history of Macedonia described in the book Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας does not fit in our small article. We tried to mention the most important events and the changes they brought.
Lets now talk a little about the gastronomy of Macedonia. As in the rest of Greece, gastronomy was developed based on the cycle of the seasons, geographical location, climate, local products and customs. The arrival of refugees from Asia Minor in 1923 had a great influence on the cuisine of Macedonia. According to the Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας Macedonia was the place of a harmonious union of Byzantine cuisine with oriental ingenuity, aroma and imagination with the local gastronomy of the Macedonians.
Thanks to this marriage, a wide variety of dishes was created, which was adapted and evolved influenced by the climate and the products of the region. In Macedonia, as in all of Greece, the diet follows the cycle of the seasons and the cultivation of the land. In summer the place offers a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, based on which they make, among other things, spoon sweets and liqueurs.
In spring and summer the countless rivers and lakes offer the best freshwater fish. In autumn the streets of vegetables meet and join the streets of wine. As winter approaches the diet changes. The pork is combined with the chestnuts, celery and quinces, the brisket is pickled to make kavourmas and the leeks are combined with the pork and become sausages. Also, the new crops with beans, trachana and oatmeal are stored until the cold and the winter holidays come. What about sweets? Samali, koulourakia, kourabiedes, donuts, bougatses, along with festive Christmas foinikia, pies, baklava and ekmek kadaifi sweeten the atmosphere. A multicultural mosaic of Macedonia, Thrace, Pontus, Smyrna is imprinted in Macedonian cuisine.
Let us now try to imagine what the taste of various local delicacies that we found in the Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας through photos and descriptions will be. Among the many recipes in the book, we chose the ones that made the biggest impression on us.
Varenika with cheese, minced meat or chickpeas
To make them, roll a dough and cut round discs, fill them and fold them into a crescent shape. Boil them, strain them and pour over them hot cow butter and optionally yogurt with garlic. For the filling we can use cheese, cheese with egg, minced meat, or beans, giant beans or chickpeas as they used to do in Pontus.
Another Pontian recipe, a thick porridge of cleaned and boiled nettles, flavored with mint and garlic. Serve hot, with oil and lemon juice.
Pilaf with yolk
A pilaf that contains meat broth, chicken breast, whitened almonds and pistachios flavored with saffron.
To make sour trachana, let the yogurt sour for a few days. Add salt and flour and make a dough. Roll the dough into small thick sheets and let them half dry. Then cut into small pieces, rub them upside down on the sieve and leave them in the sun to dry completely.
Bean soup with pork
For the bean soup with pork, cut the meat into portions and put it in a pot with water to boil. Add soaked overnight beans, onion, pepper and oil and cook the food for an hour and a half. Half an hour before the food is prepared, add tomato, salt, pepper, oregano and mint.
Sarmades with armia
Preparations for the armia begin in mid-November. After throwing 3-4 outer leaves from the cabbages, carve them at the bottom and remove the crumb. Add a spoonful of coarse salt to the vacuum created. Then place the cabbages in a jar or wooden barrel and add water until covered. Place a heavy object on top to keep them submerged. Leave them in a cool place and shake them every day. The cabbages must remain in the brine until Christmas.
When the time comes, a stuffing of minced meat, rice, oil, salt and pepper is added to the cabbage leaves. These are simmered in broth and butter for five hours and finally poured with avgolemono (a sauce of egg and lemon).
Beef with plums
The meat is marinated with lemon juice, onions, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Fry and boil the meat with the marinade. Just before the end, add plums, almonds and sugar and boil a little more.
Boil the beans and leave them to cool, put them in a saucepan with vinegar and let them soak. Add onions, peppers, peel tomatoes and boil eggs. To serve, place the beans on a plate with chopped parsley and place tomatoes, olives and eggs around them.
To make mantza we have to cut eggplants, zucchini and peppers into cubes. Then we have to fry them and then put them in a pot to boil. At the end add salt and pepper and diced cheese. Serve hot.
Kuliak fermented with chickpeas, an Easter bun that the fiancée sent to her fiancé as a gift (left). Easter bougatsa with chickpeas was the bread of Holy Week, of the 15th of August and the cake of the best man at the weddings (center). Easter bread with egg decorated with dough crosses (right).
Gumno, Christmas bread decorated with symbols depicting a threshing floor with a plow, a pair of lambs and family members (center). Christmas bread with stars of dough and almonds (left). Christmas bread with whole walnut, decorated with pastry crosses (right).
New Year’s pie with minced meat
Pie with handmade dough and stuffing from ground beef, onions, eggs, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Twisted cheese pie with traditional dough sheet
The dough needs only flour, salt and water. When it is ready, it is divided into four for four sheets. On a table they spread a clean tablecloth and place the first sheet on it. They pull it with their hands from all sides, taking care not to tear it. Once the sheet is well spread, it is sprinkled with feta. Then they wrap the sheet a couple of times on one side and lift the tablecloth almost vertically, to wrap itself in a roll. They repeat the process for the other three sheets and place them in a pan.
In the Εδεσματολόγιον Μακεδονίας we read that a common feature of all Macedonians is their love for fish. In the book you will find many recipes with fish and seafood.
But we will head to the chapter with traditional sweets. Our goal is to make a traditional revani (or ravani as we usually call it). Revani is a trademark of Veria, as we learned, where it was brought from Constantinople in 1886 by the Hochliouros family.
*We translate the recipe as it is included in the book.
|Almonds (optional)||½ cup|
|Baking powder||2 tsp|
|Chios mastic crushed||4-5 pieces|
|For the syrup:|
|Lemon juice||from 1 lemon|
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and beat them with the sugar and butter until the mixture turns white. Separately, beat the egg whites and slowly add them to the mixture with the sugar, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk, the orange zest, the vanilla, the mastic, the flour with the baking powder spoon by spoon and at the end the semolina. Stir with a wooden ladle until a uniform mixture is formed. Butter the pan, spread the dough and, if you want, add almonds on top. Put the pan in the oven and let it bake on medium heat for about 45 minutes.
For the syrup: 15 minutes before the revani is cooked, prepare the syrup, putting the sugar and water to boil and stirring constantly. Once it sets, add the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Syrup the dessert while it is still warm.
Happy syrupy enjoyment to everyone!
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