the flaros issue
Traditional Sunday lunch on Sifnos
Tradition is the way of life on Sifnos island. Every village once had a wood-fired bakery. Many traditional houses still have an outdoor oven, which is fired up every Saturday night. A smoky fragrance wafts through the whitewashed alleys, as olive branches are fed into the fire.
A procession of friends and neighbours bring pot-bellied casseroles full of chickpeas, onions, water, olive oil, and perhaps a bay leaf or sprig of thyme, to be simmered slowly overnight. The tsikalia (cooking pots) are sealed with dough and decorated with the owner’s name or initials, so when they return after church on Sunday morning they know which pot belongs to them.
The beauty of revythada (baked chickpeas) is its simplicity. Locals say the secret ingredient is rainwater (every house on Sifnos has a cistern), which makes the chickpeas as soft and creamy as butter. The nutty, comforting soup is drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and served with a hunk of crusty bread — preferably baked in the same wood oven.
Of course, the ritual of delivering and collecting your soup from the communal oven also comes with a generous side order of village gossip. (*go ahead and ask us for this traditional revythada recipe)