When we think of Greek cuisine, images of savory dishes like souvlaki, moussaka, and spanakopita come to mind. But did the ancient Greeks have a sweet tooth as well?
Did they indulge in desserts like we do today? Let’s take a closer look.
The Ancient Greek Diet
To understand whether or not the ancient Greeks had desserts, we must first examine their diet. The staple foods of ancient Greece included bread, wine, olives, cheese, and various meats such as lamb and fish. Fruits like figs, grapes, and pomegranates were also popular.
It’s worth noting that the ancient Greeks did not consume sugar in the same way we do today. They didn’t have access to refined sugar nor did they have the technology to extract sugar from sugarcane or beets. Instead, honey was used as a sweetener in some dishes.
Ancient Greek “Desserts”
While the ancient Greeks didn’t have desserts in the traditional sense of the word as we know it today, they did have sweet treats that were consumed after meals or during special occasions.
One such treat was called “glykisma”, which was essentially a mixture of dried fruits and nuts that were combined with honey and spices. This mixture would then be shaped into small balls or bars for easy consumption.
Another sweet snack was called “pasteli”, which consisted of sesame seeds that were coated in honey and then left to harden into bars. Pasteli is still popular in Greece today.
Sweets for Special Occasions
During special occasions like weddings and religious festivals, the ancient Greeks would indulge in more elaborate sweets. One common dessert was called “kollyra”, which was a type of cake made with flour, honey, olive oil, and sesame seeds.
Another dessert that was reserved for special occasions was “melomakarona”, which were honey-soaked cookies that were flavored with cinnamon and orange zest.
While the ancient Greeks didn’t have desserts in the same way we do today, they did have sweet treats that were enjoyed on special occasions or as snacks. These sweet treats were made with natural sweeteners like honey and dried fruits, rather than refined sugar.
So if you’re looking to add a touch of ancient Greece to your dessert menu, consider incorporating some traditional Greek sweets like pasteli or melomakarona. Your taste buds will thank you for it!