Double Your Pleasure with 2,500-Year-Old Gum [PHIL-OSOPHY]
Stand aside, Doublemint Gum!
Mastiha (maas-TEE-ha), a resin from the Mastic tree, is sun-dried, tear drop-shaped sap that tastes curiously different from any other gum in the world.
When I was a child, my relatives would return from the Greek island of Chios with this gum as our gift. What a disappointment! I hated everything about it, and when chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum that tastes between bland to slightly bitter at first. But after some chewing, it releases a refreshing, slightly pine or cedar-like flavor.
As a kid, I'd take Juicy Fruit any day over this stuff from the underworld.
Mastiha was first mentioned by Hippocrates, who used the gum for digestive problems, colds and as a breath freshener. This gum has been harvested for 2,500 years since Greek Antiquity, and its name translates as "to gnash the teeth," which is also the source of the English word masticate.
Back in the day, Byzantine emperor's traded mastic like gold. During the Ottoman rule, the penalty for stealing mastic was execution by order of the sultan. Strangely, chewing this gum has been known to remove fillings, but in India and Persia, mastic was used to fill cavities.
WBSM's Kasey Silvia and Taylor Cormier gave mastiha mixed reviews. Tim Weisberg said he'd rather chew it over Black Jack gum any day. Today, as an adult, I can finally appreciate mastiha, known as "Tears from Chios," the Greek gum island.
One thing is guaranteed, mastiha will not lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos.