The Traditional Treat Used To Welcome Guests In Greece

plate of colorful Loukoumi
plate of colorful Loukoumi - vivooo/Shutterstock

Sweet gummy treats have long been a warm welcome within Greece. Before you'd start tucking into plates of Greek food, powdered sugar-dusted candies known as loukoumi were offered with Greek coffee and a cup of water. In traditional homes, you may still find them served, and the term has made its way into everyday conversation to describe beautiful and tasty things. Though the treats may not be as frequently served today, these small bites -- small enough to fit onto a spoon -- have become synonymous with hospitality in Greece and can be found easily in shops and sold as souvenirs.

Throughout Greece, many different kinds of loukoumi recipes can be found. Traditional makers don't use additives or chemical sweeteners in their recipes, opting instead to use rose sugar made from rose petals or local honey to flavor the pieces. The sweetened pieces are left to set before loukoumi makers dust their creations with powdered sugar and cut shapes to distribute and sell. Also called Turkish delights, the traditional candies are made in flour-coated wooden molds and can offer unique flavors like bergamot and mastiha to visitors.

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Preserving Sweet Tradition

close up of Loukoumi
close up of Loukoumi - Katinkah/Shutterstock

In the early 19th century, loukoumi established a unique reputation on the island of Syros. The island's mountain water lent subtle flavors to the sweets and dozens of workshops dedicated to making the treat cropped up. At the turn of the 20th century, Syros was sending out as much as 8 tons of loukoumi each year. While the recipe to make loukoumi is fairly straightforward, it takes a master to get the texture, flavor, and appearance exact.

Within the loukoumi family, other recipe spinoffs such as moustoloukouma offer different tastes and textures. The sugary delicacies can include pieces of nuts like pistachios. Akanes is more buttery in taste and has roasted almonds in the recipe for added crunch. Soutzouk loukoum is shaped like a sausage and is made by dipping strands of walnuts into the loukoumi mixture. Today, the colorful, festive gummies can be found at important events and have remained an iconic symbol of Greece.

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