Greetings, fellow Greeks and philhellenes! This Christmas, The Holiday Chomp will give you a brief introduction to melomakarona, one of the country’s most beloved winter treats!
Melomakarona (pronounced as spelled, singular: melomakarono) are soft, aromatic cookies infused with syrup and drizzled with chopped walnuts. This cookie is soft, juicy, and sometimes crumbly, with a pleasingly crunchy exterior. Key ingredients that give the melomakarona its characteristic texture and aroma include semolina, olive oil, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes an alcoholic flavoring from cognac or beer. Bakeries today may also add a chocolate coating or filling.
The name of this cookie is formed from the words melo (from meli, meaning honey) and macaronia. The latter word refers to a Greek funerary dish served during the Middle Ages, which in turns has its origins in macaria, ancient, cookie-sized funerary breads. With the ages, these breads were eventually dipped into honey, and are hence oft-claimed to be the ancestor of today’s melomakarona (this chain of descent is also attributed as originating the words “macaroni” and “macaroon”).
Melomakarona can be found in bakeries all over Greece (this blogger loves those from Veneti, which are half the conventional size, from Varssos in Kiffissia, and from Oi Synteknoi, a boutique Cretan market in the Athenian suburb of Neos Kosmos that delivers to all over the city).
Quality melomakarona can also be bought online at Titan Foods (Astoria, N.Y.), Yoleni’s (based in Athens, ships worldwide), and Hellenic Grocery (U.K.).
For authentic melomakarono recipes, check out My Greek Dish, Greek Boston, Akis Petretzikis (in Greek), and Stelios Parliaros (in Greek).
Stay tuned this week for the next delicious installment of The Holiday Chomp—it’s Christmas, and we have a lot to chomp on!