The Ancient Greeks are responsible for making a lasting impression on the world and they've provided us with many things that we carry on to this day. From art to philosophy and even democracy, their culture and traditions are so well intertwined with modern times that it's easy for one to question whether or not the foods we eat have even been Greek-inspired. While Mediterranean food does carry many of the same ingredients and flair as that which was eaten during Ancient Greek times, the diets of those back then were slightly different. For starters, wine was available in abundance and wasn't just viewed as an alcoholic beverage - it was ingrained in almost every course!
Aside from that, many of the cuisines of the Ancient Greeks and not only what they ate, but how, was very similar to how many people eat today. With three meals and the potential for dessert, one of which usually included a large breakfast, it's interesting to see how the Ancient Greeks survived on courses that were surprisingly healthy and abundant in nutrients. This is in stark contrast to the Ancient Romans, who had rather unique and unusual dining styles and ingredients in their meals.
In reality, breakfast options actually consisted of one option: bread with wine. Specifically, the brad was dipped in the wine and the reason wasn't just for the flavor. During that time, the bread of choice would have been made from barley which made it much tougher and harder than the bread we know today. In order to combat this, the Ancient Greeks would always have a glass of wine ready for dipping in order to soften up the wine and, on some level, to add a bit of flavor.
If that wasn't on the menu, the choice was a type of pancake made with honey, olive oil, wheat flour, and curdled milk. The pancakes were called teganites and were traditionally eaten with honey drizzled over the top. As a savory option, cheese would sometimes be served over the top of these pancakes rather than honey.
What Was Eaten For Lunch
Surprise surprise, lunch was also accompanied by wine although barley bread took no part in being dipped into it. As opposed to the heavier lunches we eat today, for the Ancient Greeks, lunch consisted of much lighter options that were more akin to snacks than actual meals.
This could be anything from figs to cheese, with accompaniments like olives and salted fish. Lunch would have closely resembled what we know today as tapas, or small plates, that accompanied a glass (or more) of wine, which was something that the Ancient Greeks highly valued (obviously).
Dinner Was An Important Meal
One thing that has remained constant in Greece is the significance of dinner which was regarded highly in Ancient Greek culture. Interestingly enough, dinner was not unlike what many people know it to be today.
Common topics, such as literature or philosophy, would be discussed over a big meal that usually consisted of a wide majority of things: legumes, eggs, figs, cheese, quail, fish, bread, and vegetables if they were harvested that season. This spread might rival what many of us know at our own dinner tables but one should bear in mind that this meal was the largest of the day - and acquired the appropriate fanfare to go with it.
Much of the time, any meat was only available to those who could afford it so more often than not, the average household had more vegetables on the table than anything else. Another distinction is that women and men did not eat together and, normally, men would eat before the women would in a household.
The Potential For Dessert
Desserts during Ancient Greek times were nothing like the desserts we know today. In fact, it's hard to determine whether or not they could even be called desserts based on the fact that sugar was nonexistent during that time. Rather, the closest thing the Ancient Greeks had to any type of sweetener was honey, which would be drizzled over things like cheese and figs to create a 'dessert.'
Even foods such as olives got a copious dose of honey if that was all that was available, and dessert wasn't something that was commonly eaten every day after a meal. Rather, it was served during special occasions and after large dinners, with many of the foods that were eaten for lunch being served once again after the main meal was finished.