In Chania, at the bougatsa shop of Iordanis, tables are populated since dawn with Chaniots and people who have just arrived from near-by villages to feast on their favourite bougatsa served on small zinc dishes.
Inspired rhyming verse inscriptions on the walls (sometimes even Cretan couplets) testify that this joint is one of people’s favourites.
“Whenever I come to Chania, I get those sugar cravings.
Eating one whole baking pan of bougatsa Iordanis is the only way to tame them (one baking pan though won’t do the trick)”.
Have a look at this one:
“Expensive labels mean nothing to me, even if it’s an Armani;
but the bougatsa I eat, must always come from Iordanis”.
Bougatsa (pogaça stands for dough in Turkish) is a pie prepared with handmade thin, crispy phyllo (thinly rolled out pastry). Depending on the filling, it comes either in salted or sweet version.
The origins of bougatsa are traced back to Byzantium. The Greek migrants who fled away from Constantinople in 1922 after the Greco-Turkish War introduced bougatsa to Greece; Serres and Thessaloniki at the north of Greece were the first cities to become acquainted with this delicacy. Soon bougatsa “conquered” the entire country and became one of the most popular and favourite street food of the Greeks.
Strangely enough, long before it became known in Athens and Thessaloniki, bougatsa was a hit in Crete. The father-in-law of Iordanis, a baker from Constantinople, bought in 1924 the bougatsa shop owned at the time by a Cretan Muslim. Iordanis Akasiadis was the one who followed next at the helm of the shop and this is how the shop got its name. Currently, it is the fourth generation of Iordanis’s descendants that prepares the famous bougatsa, keeping the family tradition alive.
Contrary to the bougatsa prepared in the city of Heraklion that has a sweet crème filling and is topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon, the famous bougatsa Iordanis prepared in Chania, although also sprinkled with powdered sugar, has a light sourish taste, since it is filled with the Chaniot myzithra cheese, namely with Pichtogalo Chanion Cheese PDO, a cheese spread produced traditionally from goat’s milk or sheep’s milk or from a combination of goat’s and sheep’s milk.
Even though the city of Chania is overwhelmed with fast food outlets, the bougatsa shop of Iordanis is the place where everyone – locals, visitors, young and elderly – makes a stop here to eat the delicious Chaniot bougatsa as it comes fresh from the oven. Bringing back sweet memories, this sweet pie is symbol of an era long gone. It mellowed our hearts; it will definitely mellow yours too.