Good news: It can be tasted all year long!
Christmas time already and we can’t help but anticipate the 24th of December. You may not be wondering why but the answer is not that obvious; why? Well, because it’s not (only) the lovely Christmas presents under the tree and the festive atmosphere but mostly the local sweet bread Zakynthians bake and eat (mainly) on Christmas Eve along with other delicious treats; a unique custom that dates back to the depths of time and is invariably preserved.
Essentially, it is a ritual signifying family unity and faith to the birth of the Son of God. Luckily for us and visitors alike, this particular bread can be tasted all year long, as several bakeries are willing to reveal this visual and luscious feast to those who have not experienced it before; so it can be available during summer. (Tip: Goes perfect with local spicy cheese, olives and sweet red wine!)
The dough is kneaded in a wooden basin with flour of the best quality which is finely sifted and enriched with fragrant herbs, orange zest, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon cloves and, of course, olive oil and local wine galore. It is then decorated with intricate dough designs and sprinkled with sugar and small sugared almonds of different colours. Inside the kouloura there is a coin, called “the finding”, which is said to bring the best of luck and good health to the owner of the particular piece of kouloura for the year to come.
Gun shots are heard all over the island when the eldest male of the family has finished cutting the kouloura and offering each member of the family a piece. Everybody literally devours their piece, waiting to see if they can have some more!
Us? We definitely can’t wait!!!