Bringing History to Life
Best described as frugal, reflecting the difficulties that were faced in producing enough food on Greece's rocky and mountainous terrain, ancient Greek food is characterised by the "Mediterranean Triad" of wheat, olive oil and wine. Indeed, wine and olive oil have always been a central part of the Greek diet and the spread of grapes and olive trees in the Mediterranean and further afield is directly related to Greek emigration and colonisation.
Goat, sheep and pig meat was eaten, but rarely. Since most of Greece is close to the sea, fish and seafood were far more likely to be on the menu. Tuna, mullet, mackerel, snapper, octopus, squid, sea urchins and all varieties of shell fish, could all be grilled or baked. Such food could be supplemented with root vegetables, olives, goat's milk and goat's cheese. For the poor, however, barley gruels or porridge (kykeon) undoubtedly provided the staple diet.
The Greeks generally had three to four meals a day. A typical breakfast consisted of barley bread dipped in wine or olive oil, sometimes complemented by figs or olives. Pancakes made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey and curdled milk were also enjoyed. One kind of pancake made from a spelt flour dough is mentioned being topped with honey, sesame and cheese.
A quick, light lunch was taken around noon or early afternoon. Dinner, however, was the most important meal of the day being taken at nightfall. An additional light meal was sometimes taken in the late afternoon. Literally a "lunch-dinner", it effectively replaced the dinner meal.