I promise this is the last thing I’ll say about Greece for at least a few months, okay? I’ve been web surfing between sets of reasearch for my upcoming English Composition and Grant Writing classes at the Bicocca (Univ. of Milan) and I pulled out a giant tub of Greek “Mastiha” to accompany my travels. My mouth is full of sticky, sugar coma-inducing wonderfulness. Mastiha in the form I have it, is thick, chewy, (harder than) gooey and almost salt-water toffie-like. Probably the origin of the word masticate. The consistency is not the point though. It’s the taste. This particular product is 55% sugar (says on the label) and (probably) 44% glucose syrup with (I imagine) 1% Mastic oil. It’s the mastic oil that gets me. It’s a delicious, elusive flavor – almost minty, almost clovelike. I love it! So I Google the brand Mastihashop and get the story. They sell natural mastiha resin droplets along with a host of hip looking Mastiha products. I’m trying to imagine the concentrated minty, clovelike flavor of the resin unencumbered by the overwhelming, stupor-inducing sugar content of the stuff I’ve got. Evidently the droplets used to be popular among the higher-ups of the empires that controlled what is now Greece. Romans, Genoans, Byzantines and Ottomans all favored the Island (and islanders) of Chios where Mastiha comes from and chewed the resin to promote good breath and white teeth. It seems that as with many agricultural products from Greece, the Mastiha industry has been suffering as of late. So Mastihashop is trying to make a go of promoting this stuff as a premium product. I find that Greece has loads of magnificent and quite undiscovered gourmet items that, if they were French or Italian would sell for much more. I wish all the best to Mastihashop. Next time I’m in Greece, I’ll be sure to get some of that resin.