The Greek civilization has significantly contributed to the modern world – they gave us arts, democracy, and philosophy. But, do we still consume all the ancient Greek food? They contributed a lot to what we know today as the Mediterranean diet. Here are foods and ingredients eaten by the old Greeks.

What Was a Main Food in Ancient Greek Civilization?

For anyone wondering what food did ancient Greek eat the most, the answer may be surprising. Their cuisine was similar to how people in Greece eat today, with little differences made along the way. There were many fish, vegetables, honey, figs, olives, and bread.

The most significant difference between then and now is that today, we have refined sugar. People from the old ages didn’t use raw sugar but instead relied on honey as their primary sweetener.

Additionally, food was much more organic and healthy back then. Today, many people have allergies to certain ingredients, which wasn’t common before. Something they considered a fantastic treat might be tricky for some folks to consume nowadays.

Did Ancient Greeks Leave Any Record of the Foods They Loved to Eat?

Fortunately for modern-day cooks and historians with a particular interest in culinary history, several writers from this age wrote books that consisted of recipes and cooking instructions.

Everything we know about their meals today relies on books by Timachidas the Rhodian, who wrote about a dozen books with dinner recipes throughout his life and history.

Other writers contributing to our knowledge of age-old recipes are Hegemon the Thasian (who many called Lentil Soup), Noumenios, Artemidoros, and Philoxenos. They all wrote elaborate cookbooks that gave us insight into the old method of eating and cooking.

A bowl of figs and grapes on a marble surface

Figs accompanied nearly every meal during the day

The Most Common Ancient Greek Food on the Breakfast Menu

What food did the ancient Greek eat for breakfast? During these times, their diet was significantly impacted by climatic conditions. Certain foods weren’t available everywhere, and simplicity in consumption was considered virtuous.

They would cook pancakes called tagenites for breakfast. These were made with wheat flour, honey, curdled milk, and olive oil. There were also pancakes called staitites which were made similarly to tagenites but spelt flour was used instead of wheat.

Bread Dipped in Wine Was a Beloved Treat

More than tagenites, they made bread from barley and ate that for breakfast most of the time. Since it was probably too hard to bite into, they dipped it into wine to improve its taste and texture. It was usually complemented with figs and olives, staple ingredients for many households at the time.

Three loaves and some wheat streaks on them

Bread was a staple ingredient for breakfast and typically dipped in wine

Lunch Was a Midday Snack in the Culture of Old Greece

Lunchtime was, by all accounts, the quickest mealtime for people of the old civilization, mainly because it was considered a midday snack. They’d continue dipping their bread and snacking on it, but a few more nutritious ingredients were typically added into the mix.

The interesting part of every mealtime is that men and women ate separately, with women getting their nutrition after the men had eaten.

Plates Were Adorned With Lots of Fruit, Fish, and Cheeses

Lunch was undoubtedly modest for the people of Greece, but they’d still throw some other ingredients into the mix. They didn’t consume as much meat as we do today and didn’t have a problem with a vegetarian diet.

If you want to set up your table for lunchtime like the old Greeks, here are the ingredients you can use:

  • Raw figs and pomegranate,
  • Olives (black and green),
  • Salted fish (typically skipjack tuna, tuna, mackerel, or black carp),
  • Cheese,
  • Wine,
  • Wheat bread.

How About Dinner? The Most Important and Social Meal of the Day

Those people with roots in old civilizations like Italians, Spaniards, and Greeks consider dinners essential. Dinnertime is reserved for social gatherings and discussions of art, philosophy, and other intellectual topics.

Men would dine with their friends and have elaborate discussions while numerous fowl, from quail and chicken to pheasants and pigeons, were served. Other ingredients on the table were the ever-present olives, figs, fish, legumes, and any vegetables they could find.

Until the 3rd century B.C., the Greeks didn’t consume non-local foods. As time went on, more and more people enjoyed a lavish dinner with foods harvested from elsewhere.

They often used black pepper, cassia (like cinnamon,) dill, coriander, anise, cumin, fennel, and celery as spices and seasonings.

If They Offered You a Drink, It’d Be Water and Wine

The most common drink was water; women were in charge of fetching pitchers of it from springs. Spring water was considered a cure because it helped numerous plants around it grow.

Besides water, the most widespread drink among them was wine. According to some sources, the most delicious wines were made on Thassos, Chios, and Lesbos.

They rarely drank it in its pure form – that was reserved for northern barbarians. Drinking it like this was thought to lead to madness and death, so they preferred to cut it with water and consume it like that.

Another fun fact is that Sparta was the only place women were allowed to and routinely drank wine.

A pitcher of white wine with Greek inscribed on it, and two glasses on the side

The old Greeks loved to drink as much as modern-day people do

Dessert Was Simple but Effective

As mentioned, the people of old Greece didn’t have the refined sugar we use today. They were limited in sweet ingredients and had to make do with what they had.

The sweetest delicacy they had in their pantries was honey, and they often consumed it together with fruit and nuts. Today, a lovely recipe pairs the levels of desserts from old Greece: melopita – a cheese pie with honey garnished with chopped nuts.

The traditional melopita has the following ingredients:

  • Cheese (ricotta is used today, but you can also use cottage cheese and local kinds like anthotyro or mizithra),
  • Honey,
  • Eggs,
  • Cornstarch (or a bit of any flour),
  • Vanilla.

Where to Feast On the Best Greek Dishes in Mykonos

If you plan to visit and rent one of the private villas in Mykonos soon, you’ll notice many seafood restaurants on the island and eateries serving other typical Mykonian foods. Because travelers from all over the globe visit this island, there aren’t only traditional restaurants.

Some of the best international restaurants can be found on this island, and many of them are vegan places. Don’t worry, people in the past might have eaten only fruits, honey, and vegetables, but you’ll get to feast whenever you leave your Mykonos villa.

The Best Restaurants in Mykonos

Some restaurants may have you eating like a god from Greece, while others will show you how to dine like a king. Here’s a mix of the best restaurants in Mykonos that serve national and international dishes:

Rent Mykonos Luxury Villas With The Ace VIP and Feast Like the Gods

The Ace VIP offers wonderful luxury Mykonos villas for rental and so much more. While you decide what to eat in Mykonos, we can arrange for a private driver to pick you up or provide a car rental so you can travel wherever you want by yourself.

You might enjoy a cooking class when you leave one of our luxury villas in Mykonos, but if you’re not up for making a meal, The Ace VIP can get you a private chef with our concierge services.

After a nice meal, hop on your rented yacht, soak in the sun, and live the rest of your summer knowing you’ve eaten delicious foods and enjoyed life as the Greeks did and still do.