Sweets and Desserts of the Ancient Greeks
Cooking and eating is an art central to society in modern-day Greece, the cuisine of which is a harmonious and irresistible amalgam of influences over the millenia-old history of this very old nation. The cooking and eating of the Ancient Greeks were no exception to this rule, not least their sweets and desserts!
I will be offering periodical glimpses through this window of time, spanning from ancient Greece all the way to neo-Hellenic and progressive Greek cuisine.
The two main sources of information about the eating habits and customs, and the recipes, of the cuisine of Ancient Greece are:
– The Deipnosophistae by Athenaeus, a biologist, gastronomist and orator who lived in the latter half of the second century AD;
– The works of Archestratus, a Syracusian poet and philosopher of the 4th century BC who is considered as being the father of western gastronomy.
According to these sources, the sweets and desserts of the ancient Greeks included the following:
– Sesamous, candy made of sesame and honey
– Moustopitta, a creamy sweet made of must and flour
– Laganon or lallanghi, a kind of pancake
– Teghana, fried doughnuts laced with honey
– Koptoplakous, a sweet made of thin sheets of pastry, almonds, walnuts and honey, in what seems to be the ancestor of modern-day baklava
– Plakountae, pitas made of dough, cheese, honey, sesame and condiments
– Melitoutta, a honey-based pudding
Despite their complicated-sounding names, the desserts and sweets were simple but nourishing syntheses of natural ingredients and provided both gastronomical contentment as well as much-needed calories to a population that was, to a large part, rural and involved in physically-demanding tasks.
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