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Well, following Charles Perry’s brilliant post about the use of mastic in savoury cooking, we had a discussion about where mastic was produced. I initially thought it came from other places than Chios. However, Magda corrected me and told me that the Pistacia lentiscus in the southern part of Chios were the only trees that produced mastic. So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw this packet of Turkish mastic at my favourite Lebanese shop in London, Zen.

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Anissa: It has been quite some time since the great Charles Perry wrote a guest post and I was delighted when he suggested mastic, one of my favourite ingredients, except that he is writing about it in the context of savoury cooking which is fascinating.

Charles: With its heady resinous aroma, mastic seems a natural flavoring for sweets. The Greeks  and Turks drink mastic syrup with coffee; they put it in ice cream and Turkish  delight. The Moroccans can’t seem to grind almonds without throwing in a  little mastic.

And yet medieval Arab cooks scarcely ever flavor sweets  with mastic – it was more likely to contribute its aroma to meat dishes. The  greatest mastic fan on record is Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Baghdadi, because  mastic appears in more than half of the 96 red meat recipes in his 1226 book  Kitab al-Tabikh.

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