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Greek Mess (Ελληνικό μπάχαλο)


This dessert was inspired by Eton Mess, an easy concoction that’s usually made by whipping cream, incorporating crumbled Meringues and ripe strawberries (which are  the usual fruit). The Eton Mess was traditionally served at Eton College’s annually cricket game against Winchester College. Now this is where the dessert deviates.

I’ve never been impressed with baked meringues but they do add a nice consistency in an Eton Mess. My version using some Greek ingredients like Amygdalota (almond) cookies and Mastiha from Chios to perfume the whipped cream. I chose raspberries over strawberries as I wanted to keep them whole, the ones I bought were sweet with a hint of tartness and the finished dessert simply looked better. Alternatively, mulberries and Greek yogurt would also make for a wonderful substitute here!

Time to discuss the name of this dessert – Greek Mess. The economic and political situation in Greece is not good. I was in Greece this past May and people are continuing with their lives, learning to live with less…life goes on. Greeks are very upset that there are no jobs, worried about their children and grandchildren who are burdened with paying out the nation’s debt. Senior citizens are victimized by a government that cuts their pension and those who contributed in faith to their pension plans have learned that the coffers were pillaged by bureaucrats.

The Greek economy is now at a standstill and this is magnified by a government that offers no plan for development, investment in the future or plans to strengthen areas of Greece’s economy that have an advantage (tourism). Greeks are furious that bureaucrats and politicians have siphoned-off billions from public coffers to line their own pockets while a dwindling middle-class is asked to bear the burden of paying higher taxes to appease the new overlords from Brussels and the IMF.

Greeks are irate that the current government (past governments must share blame) does little to try and bring back the billions stolen by a succession of bureaucrats and politicians who enjoy an amnesty from prosecution. Greeks are tightening their belts while the current government talks alot about sacrifice but in practice it does little. Government waste continues: one would expect a government in this dire economic situation to lead by example rather secretly pass laws that increase their perks and in the end, place even more money in their (politicians) pockets.

The shrinking Greek middle-class bears the burden of new tax measures while many wealthy families continue to avoid paying taxes and conduct themselves as if they are above the law.

Μπάχαλο! (Bahalo!) A mess! That’s the word often described by so many Greeks when asked about the current situation. Oh yeah, Greeks will open-up when prodded to opine on Greece’s situation and  “bahalo” is often used to describe the stagnant economy of Greece, the confusion surrounding a bloated bureaucracy and confusion/insecurity about the future of a family, the next generation and a country.

Greek Mess (Ελληνικό μπάχαλο)

(makes 10)

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup icing sugar

1 tsp. ground mastiha

2 pints of raspberries (or other seasonal berry)

12 Amygdalota (almond cookies), crumbled with your hands

1/2 cup chopped almonds

4 Tbsp. chopped mint leaves

  1. Whip your cream into soft peaks then add the ground mastiha and 1/2 cup of icing sugar and continue whipping until you’ve achieved stiff peaks. Set aside.
  2. Place 3/4 of your berries in a bowl with the remaining (1/2 cup) of icing sugar and stir until the sugar is incorporated. Now coarsely mash the berries until you’ve achieved the consistency of a chunky jam.
  3. Add the mashed berries into your whipped and fold in with a spatula. Now add half of the crumbled Amygdalota (almond cookies) into the whipped cream/berry mixture (Mess).
  4. Divide and spoon the Mess into whiskey tumbler glasses then top with the remaining crumbled cookies. Next layer to be placed in the glasses are the reserved berries then the chopped almonds. Finish each serving with a topping of chopped fresh mint and serve immediately or cover and place in the fridge for up to a day.

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