Off the Beaten Track – Chios, Mastichohoria

Mastichochoria (Μαστιχοχώρια “the mastic villages” in Greek) is well known for the production of mastic, from which it derives its name. Mastic is only harvested on Chios, being a major part of the local economy.

Villages made from mastic?

Unveil the amazing world of Mastic Villages in Chios (Mastihohória) a fortified village complex of superb beauty. Villages’ existence is inextricably bound with the valuable crystal “tear” shed by mastic trees that grow only in the southern part of the island. The Genovese built this complex in order to offer shelter to the families who lived there and cultivated mastic. Mesta, Olympos and Pyrgi are amongst the villages not to miss during your visit. In the village of Pyrgi, you may also visit the Chios Mastic Museum.

What is Mastic (in Greek Μαστίχα “Mastiha”)? 


Mastiha is the natural and rare tree resin of the pistacia lentiscus var Chia tree. Scientific research has shown that this resin has anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities.  It has been documented from antiquity for its health benefits, its use as the first natural chewing gum and as a cooking spice. In Greece, it is known as the “tears of Chios,” being traditionally produced on that Greek island, and, like other natural resins, is produced in “tears” or droplets.

Originally a sap, mastic is sun-dried into pieces of brittle, translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. The flavor is bitter at first, but after some chewing, it releases a refreshing, slightly pine or cedar-like flavor. The word mastic is derived from the Greek verb, μαστιχειν (mastichein) “to gnash the teeth”, which is the source of the English word masticate. The word mastic is a synonym for gum in many languages.

You may also found a liqueur seasoned with Mastic usually offered after dinner in shots but can also be ordered as any drink and served always frozen cold.

 

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