Truth be told, the usual daily diet of ancient Greeks didn’t differ much from how we eat today. Three main meals: breakfast eaten short after waking up before starting the day; lunch a short break from work at midday; dinner the main meal after work in the evening.
Breakfast was usually yesterday’s bread rather stale and hard, softened up by dipping it in wine. Yes, they could have used water but why not start the day as you mean to go on? Wine has been featured greatly in a typical day in ancient Greece and some may say it still does today. Something else enjoyed at breakfast were teganites – a piece of dough from yesterday’s bread-making fried in olive oil and served with honey or cheese; honey being the only source of sweetener back then.
Lunch was a quick affair often easily carried to work and consumed quickly, such as bread, olives, cheese, and any seasonal fruit, and wine, of course. This type of snack is still eaten today by farm workers and shepherds who cannot manage to get home for lunch. Greek families still take this combination of food with them either on a long car journey or an all day trip to the beach, only today it is packed up in plastic boxes and aluminum foil not a bag made from a piece of sheepskin.
Dinner, the main meal of the day, was a time to relax, catch up with the latest gossip, discuss philosophy, and disagree about politics. Not much changed. One thing has changed; today, both men and women sit around the table together and partake of food. Ancient Greeks, although forward in their ideas and outlook on life, were backwards when it came to women’s equality. Only men sat around the dinner table together, served by the women who only sat down to eat somewhere else and when the men finished eating.
As dinner was the most important meal of the day, a larger variety of food was eaten. Fish, cheese, vegetables, olives, and olive oil. Meat didn’t play a large part in the ancient Greek diet, and when it was eaten it was by the wealthier citizens or as special treat at celebrations. Always, as is today, bread and wine were never absent from the table.
A day in the Mediterranean diet life of an ancient Greek was much as it is today, only now, when dressing for dinner, we wear dinner jackets not flowing white robes.