It all started off as a traditional gesture of hospitality to guests. Someone stops by, you offer them a drink and a ‘spoon sweet‘, which is a spoonful of sweet preserves made from nutritious fruits or figs, served on a spoon and are popular in Greece and Cyprus.
Spoon sweets first appeared in Byzantine cuisine and found their way to Greek shores by means of Arab traders in the 14th century. Most commonly they are served with Greek coffee and a glass of cold water. They can be made with whole fruit, fruit pieces, puree and resin. Spoon sweets eventually made their mark as the ideal summertime dessert in Greece.
One typical spoon sweet is from the island of Chios called the ‘ipovrichio’ or submarine. It can be flavored with vanilla or as mastic and is made from mastic resin, for which the Aegean island is famous. This sugary fondant is served on a teaspoon and dipped into a glass of ice-cold water, thus why it is referred to as a submarine. Once you get your spoon submerged, the fondant softens and you go to work licking the spoon like a fondant lollipop of sorts.
This dessert is loved by children and adults alike. During the summer you will see people at the beach or cafeterias enjoying a submarine. Although as mentioned the typical flavors are vanilla and mastic, if you opt to make the sweet dessert at home, you can also add fresh berry juices to flavor and experience a glimpse of summertime traditions in Greece.