By Pauline Tresise
IT is believed that baklava was created by the Assyrians – around the eighth century BC – who used layered thin bread dough, chopped nuts and honey baked in their wood fired ovens for their table of sweet offerings.
For centuries baklava has crossed borders and been passed down in history from the renowned Persian patissiers to the Byzantium court of Justinian I at Constantinople. The Greeks, whose merchants and sailors travelled widely in Mesopotamia, were captivated by the taste of these delicacies and as a result invented the dough technique of phyllo. The Armenians who were situated on the spice route incorporated cinnamon and cloves. Over the centuries, as this sweet crossed borders, different ingredients and methods were used: the Greeks added cinnamon and honey and the people in the Middle East added rose water and cardamom. Originally baklava was considered food for the wealthy as many families did not have ovens of their own, but since the 19th century it has been traditionally used by families, especially at celebratory times.
Today it has arrived in the pastry shops in Australia and many of the migrant communities have brought their own family version. As we sit watching it being prepared by Farangeez, who came from Iran 10 years ago we are reminded of the importance of preserving these traditions. Baklava she tells us takes two days to make so all the flavours are incorporated, so the day before she had prepared the first tray which was passed around after the workshop – not once but twice and for some three times. Our warm thanks to Farangeez Ahmadi for giving us her time and sharing her recipes with us.
A special thankyou to Slow Food Perth Members and Fiori coffee merchants, Kamran Nowduschani and Louise Gordon for bringing their new coffee to highlight this taste sensation. For those interested Fiori coffee it can be purchased at quality grocers and used in good coffee lounges such as Tiger Tiger and Boucla. Contact Fiori Merchants on 9328 4988 for further information.