Where will you find mastic?
Well, apart from hardware stores, and around baths and windows, you'll mostly find mastic in the magically marvellous mastic tree.
It's only usually only a small bush, is Pistacia lentiscus, but it's a tough old thing all the same. It grows all round the Mediterranean and Middle East and in Mexico and the Canary Islands.
But of all the places where it grows the most special is the Greek island of Chios, because it is only there that the mastic tree weeps when its bark is cut.
And what does it weep? Well, mastic, of course.
Mastic is thought to be mentioned in the Bible as bakha, a word probably derived from the Hebrew word for weeping.
(Ah yes, you will think, that's because of the tears of mastic that fall from the tree when it is cut. But the truth is stranger still, because if you walk over a mastic tree and break its branches then the tree makes a pathetic weeping noise. How weird is that?)
The mastic itself:
is used in cakes, alcoholic drinks, cakes, ice cream, bread, soups, meat and cheese. It's part of Holy Oil, toothpaste, skin cream and perfume.
Mastic has been used as chewing gum for at least 2,400 years.
And what do you do with chewing gum?
Yes, that's right. You masticate it, of course.
Spot the Frippet: mastic. The word mastic derives either from either the Greek verb mastichein, to gnash the teeth, or the other Greek word massein to chew.