A bit more history

History of Mpougatsa / Folk pie

Greek folk pie with feta cheese2      Mpougatsa / Folk pie history dates back to the Ancient Egyptians, according to findings. When the grain processing started, they made all kinds of variations of pies and mpougatsas. Similarly in Ancient Greece, pies and mpougatsa were a part of the daily diet. The most famous kinds of pie were ones that contained cheese and oil, and “mitlotos” pie, which was a cheese-pie mixed with honey, greens and garlic.

During the Byzantine era, they too had traditional, handmade sweets and pies. However, the most famous delicacy was mpougatsa.

After 1453, the invasion of Constantinople, mpougatsa and pies were very famous according to the live testament of the famous traveler of the 16th and 17th century, Evlia Tselebi. He mentions that in Constantinople two bakers manufactured “Mpougatsa , Gourou, Kigmali, Penirli with cheese and Sante mpougatsa sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Even today, mpougatsa is manufactured in the same traditional way. The “aerofilo“ is made in the air, which is the main difference to the ‘modern pie’, along with the flavor they contain.


The origin of the word mpougatsa

Etimologically, mpougatsa is a variation of the Ottomanic word “Pogatsa”, which means sweet pie. In Constantinople it was called “Pogatsa “or “Mpogatsa”, in Greece it is called “Mpougatsa”. Today in Turkey, they  name “mpougatsa” for all different kinds of pies, and a lot of unrelated food. Another version, according to the Ottomanic dictionary, defines Pogatsa as a veriation of the Italian word “Foccasia” which means sweet pies.


The preparation of mpougatsa

In the process of making  the mpougatsa, the most important thing is for the “filo”to be perfect. To succeed in this, you will need flour, oil, and soft phytic butter of the best quality. In traditional mpougatsa pastry shops, the only electrical machine you need is the zimotiri. After the dough has been  zimothei, the process until the final result can be only handmade.

After the dough has been made, it is separated  in small little balls which are sprinkled with oil and butter and are left for a few hours to soften. From a small ball of dough the craftsman, owing to his experience and ability, creates a perfect and very thin filo of 1,5 to 2 millimetres.

At first, the craftsman presses and widens the ball of dough until it becomes the size of a small pizza, and then he throws it in to the air at least 3 to 7 times for each filo, until it is thin and right. The mpougatsa filo is called airfilo, and to be made right, the cook needs workmanship and skill. At the end, the stuffing is caged inside the filo.

The pie, the favorite flavor for children and adults, is accompanied by a story that is hard to imagine, as it starts long ago ..

Yet .. The “cake” of the ancients is an early form of bougatsa, as it was a kind of cake with a variety of fillings.

Years passed and pies remain popular in the city, but also in Smyrna.

Etymologically, the pies or bogatsa is a variation of the Ottoman word “pogatsa” meaning cake filled with cream poured over with icing sugar, or pie stuffed with cheese.

The POLITISSA and myrrh housewives make pies and bougatsakia with various fillings for breakfast and as an afternoon snack for the family, especially children, for before and after school. These are also served as a rough homemade treat to offer with sweets and coffee to visitors.

Bougatsa in Greece ..

The pies became especially popular in Greece after the Asia Minor catastrophe; from Northern Greece in Epirus, from the Peloponnese to Crete, and notably in naturalized Serres, Northern Greece, which experienced a wave of many refugees from Asia Minor .

The pies are a popular second choice in Thessaloniki. In 1917, the Guild of bougatsopoion “Thessaloniki” was founded, and two years later, it acquired 51 members; not an insignificant number.

After 1922, the spread of bougatsa in Greece accelerated, and the art and process of evolving and reinventing came to be. Today, despite its long history, the cream pie is still a daily desired dish with loyal fans.


History of the traditional pie

Since ancient times the history of pie is intertwined with one of the most basic human senses, taste.

The plethora of manuscripts maintained by the Egyptians lead us to the conclusion that the first cake form was founded in ancient Egypt. The key ingredients with which they filled pies were with honey  and fruits. The idea of the pie, which excited the numerous visitors of the Country of Pharaohs, began passively to spread around the known world.

In ancient Greece the pies were a part of the daily diet. It featured a type of pie with honey, cheese and oil, named “mytlotos”; a pie with cheese mixed with honey and garlic.

These recipes came to the Romans, who among other things, used the pies as offerings to their deities (another prime example of the refined flavor of the dish). Since then, the rich history of the pie has grown while it spread accross many different lands.

In antiquity, the cake was a special way of cooking and serving the food, as the very tough crust was difficult to be consumed. Therefore, the crust was  mainly used for heating the filling, as a primitive type of pan.

As the wheel of time rolled on, the pie adapted to every culture, tradition and kitchen it arrived in. The pies have continued to make their appearance on the table, and in the following centuries, in all social classes, it adapted its form from place to place.

Today the pies, the spinach, the lachanopites, encountered in all regions of our country, are all variations of a very ancient pie, which in its original form was simple and baked on hot stones or in hot coals.


FROM ANCIENT TO MYTLOTO a feast of traditional notions AND TASTE

The pie has its own history

A panorama of flavors from the Greek tradition, and everywhere included, have a clear direction in terms of tradition, more so in several different kinds of pies.

The history of physics from ancient Greece, where the pies were in the daily diet, a type of pie with honey, cheese and oil had the name “mytlotos” – a pie with honey and garlic.
The pie that ancient Greeks ate, particularly in the morning, was based on flour and wine. Another typical pie was the ‘mass’, which was kneaded with flour, barley, rye, oats or millet and various vegetables. The rich meals of the ancient Athenian desserts included fresh and dried fruit, salty almonds, cheese, garlic and onions ends with sweet and savory pies, which diners especially savoured.

The pies of the ancient Romans also had a base of rice flour or semolina mixed with eggs, cheese and honey. Later, they added meat or animal offal.

In the Middle Ages, little is known about the pie. We know, for example, that the fast pies were popular, and that the daily diet was predominantly vegetal; vegetables and grains as a soup or pie.

It is incredible how much people love the traditional Greek pie in its rustic form or not. Furthermore, if the pizza in Italy is the national identity taste, the pie for the Greeks is the ultimate meal for any hour. Moreover, like many great things in the world, the pie has its secrets. The first and most important of all is the quality of ingredients. It is a must to have the best and the freshest. The dough and filo (how thin it is and how many layers it will have, among other things) are also key determinants to the end experience.

In Greek: φύλλο, pronounced FEE-lo

Freshly made phyllo dough (also spelled “filo”) is always preferable, and it is not difficult. Use a pasta machine to make sheets of thin to thick dough to use for pitas and pastries. The alternative is to roll it out with a rolling pin, which takes time and experience to master. This dough is ideal for small fried and baked pies, as well as pan-sized pie crusts.