In the center of Athens, during in winter, salepi vendors still ply the streets proffering their thick, salutary drink. Salepi is a pearly white, warm, viscous concoction, made by boiling the pulverized root of a species of orchid -Orchis mascula- with water. For centuries, perhaps because of its suggestive milk- or semen-like texture, salepi was thought to be an aphrodisiac.
The salep is used mainly in the East and in Greece as an emollient and nutritious breakfast drink. To prepare, first tubers must be washed with boiling water to remove the essential oil they contain, which if left, give salep bitter and unpleasant taste Then it is dried and milled.
The infusion is prepared from salep powder sweetened with sugar or honey and flavored with cinnamon or ginger, (dust from the root of the plant medicinal Ginger).
In Greece, grows in the mountains of Pindus and is traditionally called sernikovotano , because it was believed that if prospective fathers ate large bulbs of salep they would have a male child.
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