Today is Clean Monday (Καθαρή Δευτέρα / Kathari Deftera) in Greece, the first day of the 40-day-long lenting period before Easter which is called σαρακοστή / sarakosti. They call it clean, because this is the first day of lent and also because in the past the Greek houswifes washed all the kitchen tools with hot water on this day.
Most of the Greeks go for a picnic today (called koulouma), or they just gather and eat food according to the lent (without meat, egg, milk) – mainly seafood and vegetarian dishes from the Greek kitchen. And only on this day Greeks eat the λαγάνα / lagana, the special, crunchy lenten flatbread which goes very well with the other foods of Clean Monday (like taramosalata – fish roe salad, tahini, halva, stb…).
This bread was already mentioned by Aristofanes, so Greeks have been eating it since the ancient times and still preparing it the same way: covering it with chruchy sesame seeds. It contains a special spice that gives a specific taste and aroma to the bread (they say that it helps to ‘clean’ the spirit). Some people say that the taste of ‘lagana’ is the taste of the lent itself.
People usually don’t cut this bread with knife, they only break it apart, because “iron, the stuff of knife-making long ago, was believed to contain the powers of evil.” /Diane Kochilas/
Some people make it by themselves in their homes, but others go to the local bakery that works during the whole night before to supply the neighbourhood with the ‘lagana’ on this special day.
In the Old Town of Rhodes in Fournariko bakery the bakers were working during the whole night making nearly 400 pieces of laganas for their customers only for today. They were baking the laganas in their majestic wood oven (ξυλόφουρνο – ksilofourno) one after another. I visited them and they were kind enough to let me have a look behind the scenes 😉
Of course: the secret is secret, so I cannot tell you the exact recipe, but at least you can have some idea about the process. And go quickly, have your laganas for today from Fournariko, because it is sooo soooo fantastic, chruchy, fresh and you can eat it ONLY TODAY! 🙂 I couldn’t resist it, I ate the half of my lagana while I was writing for you…
Fournariko Bakery: Πλατονος & Δινοκρατους γωνια / Platonos & Dinokratous corner – Old Town Rhodes, Greece
Opening hours: 0-24!
Kali orexi! ~ Enjoy your lagana! 🙂