This is a blog about a fond memory of my Greek childhood, that my Greek friends will immediately recognise and put a warm smile on their faces. My non-Greek friends who didn’t grow up in Greece will think: “What on earth is that”? The Ypovrichio that I am talking about, is a Greek sweet that creates delightful coolness and sweetness on a hot summer day.
In the seventies wherever you went in Greece during the summer, like a café, an engagement party, visiting your neighbour, aunt, grandmother or future mother in law, you would always get a glass of cold water (as cold as possible) with a spoon full of a white ‘substance’ that would cool and refresh you on a hot day; The ypovrichio. As children we really looked forward to enjoying it’s sweet taste, aromatized by vanilla or the famous mastiha from Chios island. Mastiha is made from the resin of the mastic tree.
How to “eat” Ypovrichio
There is a special way to consume Ypovrichio; You take the spoon carefully out of the glass of water so you don’t wet your clothes, put the entire spoon in your mouth and let it cool your mouth and soul. Then you put it back in the cold water to cool again. You repeat this until the water is no longer cold or the ypovrichio has vanished.
A sweet called submarine
Everyone in Greece had the Ypovrichio at home all the time because it was easy to keep; The sugar worked as a preservative and you did not even need to have a refrigerator to keep it in the summer. Because it was served in a glass full of cold water and it had to stay in the glass to cool down, this sweet got the nickname ypovrichio, meaning submarine.
The ypovrichio is not something we make at home; it’s something we buy. I hope that if you visit a small Greek cafeteria or taverna this summer they will give you the ypovrichio so you can try it. Sometimes they still serve it with coffee. For the people that are not visiting Greece I think there is a good change you can find it at a local Greek shop!