Greece is no stranger to struggle. Since the fall of their empire over 2000 years ago, Greece has repeatedly faced war, occupation, and famine. Currently, Greece is headed into another trying time in its history. With generations of Greeks that came before us enduring through the trials of the past, the wisest thing a modern Greek can do in this uncertain time, is look to the ways of our forefathers and revive the lifestyle of survival & resourcefulness that our ancestors established before us.
Paximadia (pahx-ee-MAH-dee-ah), also known as barley rusks, are an ancient twice baked bread that originated from the Greek island of Crete. This humble food has fed the Greek people for thousands of years. Paximadia were an invention born of necessity. Whether you were a shepherd traveling miles away from home with your flock, a sailor working the waters of the Mediterranean, or you lived on an island where wood for firing an oven was scarce, paximadia became the ancient store food, only made 2 or 3 times in a year, they provided a reliable source of sustenance no matter what the circumstance.
Barley was the primary grain used in ancient Greek times and is the traditional grain used for paximadia. Barley is the world’s oldest grain, its history going back over 8,000 years. It is naturally very low in gluten, wheat-free and is easily digestible compared to other grains. Barley flour has a slightly nutty, earthy tang that makes the flavor of paximadia simply wonderful. In our recipe for paximadia, we also add einkorn flour, made from an ancient variety of wheat that is both lower in gluten and easier to digest than modern wheat. The einkorn acts a dough conditioner, adding pliability to the dough and a bit of tenderness to the final baked bread.
Cretan barley paximadia are a simple, old world food that represent the resourcefulness of the generations that came before us. Every time we eat paximadia we are reminded of the humble traditions of our ancestors and the wisdom of their ways. Their mindfulness in making the most of what little they may have had should serve as an inspiration to modern Greece. Served with cheese & olives or just simply topped with ripe tomatoes, olive oil, feta & oregano- paximadia were more than just the foundation of the Greek diet, they represented a way of life that everyone of us should glean some inspiration from.Print