The eponymous resin of the mastic tree, which grows throughout the Mediterranean and is cultivated specifically for its resin. Mastic has a sweet, aromatic, licoricelike flavor that's highly prized throughout the Middle East as a flavoring for a variety of edibles including desserts, breads, chewing gum, and some savory dishes like couscous and tagines. It's also used to flavor liqueurs, including the Greek Masticha, a popular apéritif similar to ouzo. Mastic is available in Greek and other Middle Eastern markets. It comes in packets of crystals, which must be crushed into a powder before using.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.