Greek Wine for Breakfast?

Not sure about this one … from Sky News:

Greek nationals have discovered that the doctor’s of their ancient ancestors prescribed a cup of wine for breakfast.

Reuters reports a Greek ‘symposium’ held in the outskirts of Athens provided an opportunity for guests to prepare and sample ancient Greek cuisine. The word symposium originally referred to a Greek banquet dedicated to eating and drinking.

Core ancient Greek foods such as olives, olive, oil, parsley, oregano, honey, fish and bread, have survived over the centuries and still feature in modern cooking.

Other Greek traditions have not enjoyed the same fete.

According to Andrew Dalby, a British food historian and author who has published several books on the history of food, the ancient Greeks had a thirst for wine to kick off their day.

‘It’s true! Ancient doctors recommended a small – lets say a cup of wine, rather than a glass – a small cup of wine with water for breakfast. Yes certainly! Byzantine times, too. That was what you took. Not more than that, let’s be serious about this. You’ve got to, you have got to work for the day – but yes that’s how you started’, Dalby told Reuters.

Now it wouldn’t surprise me if Greeks (and Romans) had (diluted, of course) wine for breakfast, but I can’t recall reading a ‘doctor’ recommending same (although it’s possible). But another page (in Greek) suggests this was all part of an Ancient Greek and Byzantine Gastronomy conference/symposium and a page promoting same suggests there were rather few ancient types participating (although there are a couple of Byzantinists) … besides Dalby:

The following speakers will also be participating in the Symposium: Johannes Koder, Professor of Byzantine Studies and member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Louis Grivetti, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis, Elias Anagnostakis, head researcher at the Institute of Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Alexandros Giotis, gastronomist and culinary arts critic, Dimitris Hatzinikolaou, oenologist, Albert Arouch, food critic and author, George Boskou, associate professor of food service management, Gerasimos Rigatos, doctor and author, Theofanis Karabatsakis, scientific associate of the Macedonia-Thrace Hunting Federation, Maria Leontsini, researcher at the Institute of Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, and Panayiotis Soultanis, philologist and writer.

There’s a video news report (including Dalby saying the things quoted above) here: Ancient Greek Food Revival Workshop … not sure if I need to mention that Dalby is the guy who got quite a bit of press attention a few summers ago for suggesting that the Iliad was written by a woman (see also here … the suggestion existed before Dalby, of course, e.g. here).

2 thoughts on “Greek Wine for Breakfast?

  1. It is the practice at Mount Athos for the monks to drink wine at breakfast, and given that the monastic rule dates from Byzantine times, does this not further suggest the possibility of a similar, earlier practice?

    1. of course … I’m just wondering about the ‘doctor recommendation’ side of things

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