Gastronomy by Efi Grigoriadou
However, the historical, intellectual and cultural heritage that Mycenaean civilization left us is important. A science, but also an art, that comes to our hands, is that of food and gastronomy. The ancient Greeks said: The cook does not differ from the poet, because both are their imagination. With the use of fire, the cooks imagined the raw materials, evolving into dishes. Before we take a short journey through the gastronomy of the time, it is worthwhile to read the materials of a known recipe, with the materials of that era. Pork with leeks and quinces. The ancients used this recipe, pork, leeks, quinces, chopped celery, a little honey, olive oil, coriander, little grated leaves of dried apricot, laurel leaves, a little anise, half a glass of white wine, a touch of ginger, vinegar, and pepper. Let’s briefly mention some seasonal menus: For appetizers and salads, Beets with beets and garlic, Black chestnut olives with cheese, Spinach, fresh onion, capers, octopus tentacle with shrimp, mussels and squid, Roasted goat cheese, olive oil and vinegar. Also, cabbage, rocket, celery, asparagus, eggs with pine nuts, walnuts, bulbs, raisins and pomegranates.
For main dishes, Pancake with pork tenderloin with honey, thyme, vinegar and sardines chickpea dip , stuffed slices of pork fillet with prunes with dark broth, accompanied with artichokes and pear mash, prawns with vinegar and honey accompanied with pumpkins and cauliflower, And for dessert,a variety of nuts, prunes, dried figs, walnuts, almonds, dill, pistachios with honey, with or without yoghurt, dried figs with walnuts and honey, apple pieces and pomegranates with yoghurt and honey. If many of the above mentioned gustatory habits remind us of our daily life today, it is because ancient Greek diet is the basis upon which every healthy diet was organized in most parts of the world.
From clay signs written in Linear B (Beta) we have much information which discusses an organized community and they have also been mentioned by Plato, Isiodos, Ploutarhos, and other authors, we also have many descriptions of Ancient Greek’s meals. If we dig and search the underlying dietary structure of the ancient Mycenaean’s we will be able to retrieve three core foods: olive oil, bread and wine. The basis of the diet during the Mycenaean Age is the timeless Mediterranean trio, wheat, olives and grapes. Vegetables and legumes were added to this. Furthermore, proteins and dairy products were not absent from the Mycenaean dinner table. As far as cereal was concerned, except for wheat, barley was common. Legumes included lentils, chick peas, fava beans, peas, and beans. A favourite food was the fig which was often found growing in abandoned Mycenaean homes.
The reference of dried figs is quite characteristic and often noted on the clay signs of Linear B. parallel with wheat as a supplement for the staff and workers at the palace in Pilos. The Mycenaean signs have recorded quantities of seasonings which were used to make food tastier such as, cardamom, celery, coriander, cumin, fennel and sesame. On some signs with similar records herb are mentioned which have medicinal properties. Two of these were hibiscus and geranium. There are indications portrayed through art that they were used as pain killers and for soothing. Beef and pork were an important part of the diet. Sheep, goat, wild boar, deer and hare bones were also found in the excavations. Parallel to this, another source of life was the sea, which provided both fish and shell fish, however, the Mycenaean’s consumed these in smaller quantities. In the Mycenaean Religious Center meat, lentils and olive were cooked in a pressure cooker while in small pots traces of honey have been found. Possibly , the most incredible find from the research was that of the existence of wine with pine resin just as the well known retsina of today.There are also indications of the presence of beer and barley being used in a mixture of water and honey, also used in beverages today. Cooking was done in clay pressure cookers made of very thick clay which was heat resistant. They were sphere shaped with one or two handles and three legs to stand on. In these areas today a number of vases, cups, goblets, and pitchers have been found. In addition to these grids for charcoal and colanders have been found .