Crouton in Greece started as a “paximadi”, and here is its history.
The original name of the nut was “Dipyrite Artos” (twice in fire bread), because it was put twice in the oven. This is the name used by ancient writers in culinary writings.
The word “paximadi” is found in the first years AD. At first as “Paxama”, then as “Paxamiti”, until it took its present form over time. The word is said to have originated from a scholarly writer of the time, Paxamos, who specialized in writings of gastronomic interest.
Andrew Dalby, in his book “Siren Feasts”, argues that from the Greek word “paximadi” were created: the Arabic bashmat or basquimat, the Turkish beksemad, the Serbo-Croatian peksimet, the Romanian pesmet and the Venetian pasimata (in the Tuscan dialect pasimata defines a traditional sweet).
Dipyrite or dipyrite bread in Latin was translated as pane biscoctus< pane: bread, bis: twice, coctus: baked > biscoctus > biscotto> biscuit or, according to the ancient Greeks, “dipyrite”.
“Paximadi”, the todays -more delicated- crouton is a food that we have been eating since ancient times. It was considered the bread of the poor, because it was mainly produced by families who did not have the possibility of buying – kneading fresh bread on a daily basis. Thus, they were forced to knead a large quantity once, when there was enough flour and time (mainly in rural families, where the woman was also engaged in agricultural work). Then they kept fresh bread for 2-3 days (as long as it could be preserved) and the rest was put in the oven, at a low temperature to remove the moisture and so it could be preserved longer.
It was the bread of people who, mainly because of work, were absent from their homes for long periods of time. Sailors, shepherds, farmers, are those who are considered to have had the “paximadi” as their basic food, since it was the only thing that could be preserved unchanged for several days, even months, from the day of its production.
Of course, in this day and age when we try – and rightly so – to add more flavour and innovation to everything we eat, there are as many variations of this wonderful product as there are people involved in it.
Since the combinations in their use are infinite, here we give you just a few ideas; the rest is left to your imagination and creativity.