Salepi, winter beverage for the grey days
It is consumed warm in the cold days of winter. It is a powder that is boiled with sugar or honey and flavored with ginger.
Salepi is produced from the roots of the wild orchid, called Orchis mascula or cormorant. The ancient Greeks believed that the orchid was a symbol of manhood and fertility. They believed that eating orchid condyles could favor the birth of male children. This is the herb known as cormorant today.
Apart from the demulcent properties, salepi is also aphrodisiac and in antiquity it was also called “Satyrion”.Theophrastus first gave the name Orchis, inspired by the Orchid myth and the similarity of the double orchid root of the orchid with the male genitalia. Orchis was the son of Satyr and Nymph, who, during the festivities in honor of Bacchus, performed sacrilege Bacchus in order to punish him ordered him to become food for the wild beasts and transformed Orchis into a weak plant.
The Chinese used them to decorate their homes, while in the Middle Ages it was an essential ingredient for healing and erotic filters. The local orchids of the British Isles, whose roots are known as ‘dogstones’, were low-cost and consumed by the working classes as they were considered a ideal breakfast for the chimney sweeps. In the early days of the industrial era, the stalls selling salepi were numerous, before they became extinct disappearing completely after the emergence of coffee shops.
In Greece most of us know the drink that is offered to us by street vendors carrying bronze utensils and wearing white aprons.
This filmy, dense beverage softens the throat, acts as a respiratory decongestant and relieves the stomach. It is rich in vitamins but does not contain theine or caffeine that makes it suitable also for children. It is also used for making sweets such as ice cream with kaymaki, creams and jellies, and it is also very well combined with Chios mastic.
Due to its worldwide widespread consumption the demand of salepi now exceeds production, resulting in the risk of the plant’s extinction. For this reason the export of salepi has now been banned. However, different varieties of salepi from other eastern countries or substitutes with salepi flavor are available on the market.