My best childhood memories are those that always involved some kind of sweet treat. And no memories are sweeter than the ones that have Greek vanilla in them.
Known as ‘βανίλια υποβρύχιο’, which literally translates as ‘vanilla submarine’, the treat is basically just a vanilla fondant served as a spoon sweet in a glass of water. You dip your spoon in the fondant, scoop a little, dunk it in a glass of cold water and lick.
When I was a child, it went without saying that every relative stocked vanilla. If an uncle or aunt asked you what you would like to drink, you automatically answered, “Nero kai vanila” / “Water and vanilla”.
A spoonful of stretchy whipped vanilla soaked in a glass of cold water would keep me occupied for ages…well at least until I had eaten it all. As I got older, I was allowed to scoop out the vanilla myself and would always give everyone a very generous helping. Sometimes I even managed two spoonfuls.
Me and my siblings were so distraught that cold, dreary England didn’t stock our favourite treat, that my Yiayia took to sending over great big parcels filled with huge tubs of the stuff. I think we’ve still got some in the cupboard somewhere…probably fermenting.
Rather than buy it ready made, you can actually make a vanila gliko – ipovrichio yourself. Here’s how:
You will need:
- 640g sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 teaspoonfuls of lemon juice
- 1 level teaspoon of vanilla paste
What to do:
- Put the water to boil with the sugar and stir.
- When the syrup has thickened, add the lemon juice and continue to boil for a few minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Pour the syrup into a bowl and leave to cool.
- Add the vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon until it all thickens.
- Serve on a teaspoon in a glass of cold water.
My mouth is watering already!
Note: If you have sensitive teeth this could cause you a LOT of pain!