Sykomaida, literally fig paste or fig bread, is one of the most characteristic specialities of Corfu. Its name is a compound of the Greek word for fig (syko) and mágis, an Ancient Greek word for dough, paste or cake.
Although figs grow in practically every corner of Greece, and most famously and prolifically in Kalamata in the Peloponnese and Kymi on the east coast of Evia, sykomaida as described below is rarely found anywhere except Corfu. In the old days, farmers used to come into town on their donkeys to sell these round fig patties; they were a great favorite among the city dwellers.
Although they are mostly factory made these days and don’t necessarily have the same authentic taste, you can still find traditional sykomaida in Corfu Town’s central market.
RECIPE FOR SYKOMAIDA
The ingredients and the recipe of traditional sykomaida are as follows:
- Figs –“livana” or “vassilika”
- Fresh ripe grapes of black mantzavi or vostitsa variety
- Fennel seeds
- Black pepper
- Grated dried fennel
The figs are dried in the sun for a week and then kneaded with must from pressing the grapes, along with the pepper, dried fennel, crushed fennel seed and alcohol.
The “dough” is shaped into patties about the same size as a hamburger, then placed on fig leaves and dried some more in the sun.
When they’re dried, they’re wrapped in vine, walnut or chestnut leaves and tied up with string.
As for the taste, they are chewy and have a pungent, unusual taste, and the ingredients may also include walnuts, orange peel and ouzo or mastiha. Because they are not too sweet, some aficionados think they make a good meze for raki or ouzo.