Classical Greece: Staple Foods

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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The staple foods of Greeks when leading a settled life were wheat and barley. At home these were baked into loaves in clay ovens or under ashes; travellers and soldiers probably more often boiled them as gruel or porridge. Poor people supplemented this diet with little more than fruit, mushrooms, and vegetables gathered from the wild. Many could afford to add olive oil and flavourings such as cheese, onion, garlic, and salt fish (e.g. anchovy, goby). On the tables of the wealthy, the variety of fish and meat dishes and the many savoury and sweet confections were still typically preceded by wheat and barley loaves.