Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ginger (Πιπερόριζα)

Gingernuts hold special memories for me. They are one of the few recipes I am prepared to buy special ingredients for which I never use to make anything else, only gingernuts. Honey and cinnamon don't have quite the same effect as golden syrup and powdered ginger. Both ingredients are difficult to find in Hania; neither are stocked on a regular basis in the supermarket, not even the top-end ones.

I still use Delia Smith's recipe, with a couple of adjustments: olive oil (of course), and the last time I made them was in our wood-fired oven, which is why some of them got a bit 'over-browned'. To ensure that they didn't burn on the bottom of the very hot oven, I placed an old baking tin with some water in it and then placed the baking sheet with the biscuits on top of that.

Ginger isn't part of the Greek cuisine taste spectrum, although fresh ginger is now widely available in all supermarkets in fresh form. I keep it as a pantry staple in my kitchen, but I never use it in my Greek dishes. It's always used in my Asian cooking. Ginger's first appearance in Greece came in the form of ginger beer made in Corfu, following British influence (they still play cricket there too), but it is a heavily regionalised taste in Greece: ginger beer is not available in Crete.

Dark Chocolate Ginger Sticks From The Chocolate CafeBorder Biscuits The Legendary Dark Chocolate Ginger 175 G (pack Of 6)While holidaying in London last month with my family, I got a chance to taste a variety of ginger-chocolate treats that no one in my family likes, which meant that I was able to eat the whole packet all by myself, like chocolate-coated ginger-flavoured Border Biscuits and chocolate-coated crystallised ginger sticks. The concept of a ginger-flavoured sweet treat combined with chocolate is definitely an acquired taste: either you are taken to it, or you don't want to go near it. Crystallised ginger is quite beyond the taste acceptability levels of the average Greek. The only time I've seen it here is in the possession of US Army officers: it is shipped into the Cretan US naval base which is stationed in Souda Bay in Hania along with all sorts of other items which I've never seen in the supermarkets (like vanilla essence, ribs, maple syrup and all sorts of other US staples that I'm not really familiar with).

If only these sweets were easy for me to reproduce, as they are definitely my kind of sweets. Maybe it's better that they aren't that easy to reproduce because I can imagine eating them all too regularly.

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