Paximathia (Greek: παξιμάδια), also spelt paximadhia and paximadia, is a hard bread of Greek origin that is prepared with whole wheat, chick pea or barley flour. It has been referred to as being similar to biscotti or as a type of biscotti. Paximathia is a common food in Greece and many Greek bakeries sell the bread, which is often served as a breakfast food with marmalade or cheese. Paximathia is purveyed in Greek specialty stores in many areas of the United States.
The name paximathia comes from the Greek term paximadion (Greek: παξιμάδιον), which is derived from Paxamus, a 1st-century Greek author who wrote, among many things, a comprehensive cookbook. The word first appears in a recipe for laxative biscuits composed by the Greek physician Galen.
Paximathia were traditionally consumed by Greek farmers, as well as the Byzantine military and thrifty priests. Greek farmers would eat paximathia in their fields after soaking it in water and olive oil, which would soften it. This was sometimes accompanied with foods such as homemade cheese and a few olives, often as sole accompaniments. It used to be baked in outdoor ovens approximately every ten to fifteen days, after which the bread would be sliced thickly into wedges and placed back in the ovens to dry, which would serve to preserve it. Paximadia was a staple food for the inhabitants of Crete.
Paximathia is prepared with whole wheat, chick pea or barley flour. Other ingredients used in its preparation may include eggs, vegetable oil, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest. In contemporary times, paximathia is typically baked overnight in bakers' ovens that have been turned off, whereby the bread is cooked from the remaining heat. This method cooks the bread to a dry state without creating brittleness that can cause undesirable crumbling. Paximathia is sometimes broken into pieces and served in salads after being dampened. Contemporary versions stored at room temperature can remain edible for up to eight weeks when stored in an airtight container.
In Crete, a variety of paximathia is called kouloura, which is ring-shaped, prepared dried, served drizzled with olive oil and is typically topped with oregano and grated tomato. Eptazymo is the Cretan style that is prepared with chick peas.
- Kochilas, Stenos & Pittas 1999, pp. 15–16.
- Hoffman & Wise 2004, "Twice-Baked Toasts: Paximadia", pp. 128–129.
- Kremezi 1997, p. 209.
- Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association 2001, "Paximathia (Biscotti)", p. 125.
- Patsalis 2010, "Paximathia", p. 94: "These are the Greek equivalent of biscotti. They are lightly baked with a hint of orange flavor."
- Kochilas 1993, "Paximathia", p. 50.
- Dalby 1996, pp. 164–165: "Paxamus was a man of wide interests, according to a Byzantine lexicon: 'Paxamus, author. Cookery in alphabetical order. Boeotica in 2 books. The Twelvefold Art: this is about sexual postures. Dyeing, 2 [books]. Farming 2 [books]' (Suda, s.v.)...Paxamus is in a sense still remembered: a barley biscuit, first recorded in the second century and well known in Byzantine and modern Greece, is supposed to have taken its name paxamâs, paximádion from him."
- Dalby 1996, Endnote #48, p. 257: "The word first occurs in Galen, Handy Remedies 3 [14.537], a recipe for laxative biscuits..."
- Dalby 1996, p. 196: "The basic food of the Byzantine army was cereal, in several convenient forms. Of great importance was the barley biscuit that was possibly named after the late Hellenistic cook Paxamus (Chapter 7, p. 165). It was probably the food that the future Emperor Justin II, uncle of Justinian, carried in his knapsack, the food that kept him alive on his long walk from Illyria to Constantinople; it was certainly food for soldiers and for frugal priests as well."
- Quintner 2005.
- Neofytou 2013, "Paximathia", p. 30.
- Dalby, Andrew (1996). Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13-496985-2.
- Hoffman, Susanna; Wise, Victoria (2004). The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking. New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7611-3468-8.
- Kochilas, Diane; Stenos, Vassilis; Pittas, Constantino (1999) . The Greek Vegetarian: More Than 100 Recipes Inspired by the Traditional Dishes and Flavors of Greece. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-20076-3.
- Kochilas, Diane (1993) . The Food and Wine of Greece: More Than 250 Classic and Modern Dishes from the Mainland and Islands. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-08783-8.
- Kremezi, Aglaia (1997). "Paximadia (Barley Biscuits): Food for Sailors, Travellers and Poor Islanders". In Walker, Harlan (ed.). Food on the Move: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 1996. Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. Devon: Prospect Books. pp. 208–211. ISBN 978-0-907325-79-6.
- Neofytou, Tina (2013). From My Mother. Xlibris Corporation LLC. ISBN 978-1-4931-3168-6.[self-published source?]
- Patsalis, Stephanie M. (2010). Greek Chic Cuisine. Charleston, SC: Lulu.com. ISBN 978-0-557-22457-9.[self-published source?]
- Quintner, Suzanne (2 August 2005). "Paximathia". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
- Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association (2001). Morning Menus Inn Style: Menus and Recipes from the Innkeepers of the Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association. Woodruff, WI: The Guest Cottage, Inc. ISBN 978-1-930596-04-7.