Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Ancient Greek Cuisine – Olive oil

There is no doubt that olive oil is the most typical Mediterranean staple. It is the first ingredient that comes to the mind of laymen and nutritionists whenever mention is being made of the Mediterranean eating habits. The latter occurs because only in the region of the Mediterranean is olive oil so omnipresent in the daily diet.

A great many pseudo-mouthed amphorae, that today grace collection of ancient Greek artifacts, were used for the storage of olive oil. Many archaelogical excavations conducted in recent years have uncovered an abundant number of olive kernels, while prehistoric finds from Greek caves suggest olive oil consumption in much earlier times.

In antiquity, the islands of Samos and Ikaria were reputed for the olive oil they produced. At the same time, Attica was both self-sufficient in olive oil and a major exporter of it, which was not the case with the rest of its staples. When Solon rose to power in the early 6th century BC, he prohibited the export of agricultural products with the exception of olive oil. The best olive oil was obtained from green olives (omfakinon elainon). Oil was also extracted from almonds, and occasionally used to enhance the aroma of the olive oil. The latter would be stored in earthenware jugs, a storage method continued to be used in Greece almost until World War II.

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