Dining in Ancient Greece – Nutritional Habits

Such was the importance of sailing and fishing that fish was a major part of the local diet. Fish, shellfish, squid and eels were consumed in near any manner possible. The richer families may extend their diet to caviar, oysters and turtles. Smoked fish was even imported from as far a field as the Black Sea and Spain.

Meat was a far less common dish. At home one would be more than happy to have sausages or hare. Any animal capable of producing food was valuable alive. Goats cheese, for example could be happily produced in great volume. Any kind of poultry, however, would not be out of place on a table. Pheasants, chickens, all were available.

During the summer fruits and vegetables were readily available fresh. Fruits were eaten in all possible manners, while vegetables were preferable well dressed. However, for over the winter one was advised to dry out and preserve them. Apparently one manner of preserving a whole variety of fruits is to put them in honey, carefully ensuring that no one fruit touches another. To preserve green vegetables one need only put them in a receptacle treated with pitch.

Seasonings of all sorts were imported. Garlic, onions and mustard were highly popular. And, as with today, olive groves grew in abundance. They were quite capable of supplying far beyond the reaches of Greece itself even then. Wine, too, was readily available and cheap. Each area, as today, produced its own distinct flavor. The Aegean islands, especially Lesvos and Chios, were said to be the best. The wine was transported in amphorae and was then strained through fine cloth prior to use, relieving it of the bitty sediments left in during production.


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