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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
Unearthing the pasta
greece
Back on the menu: Ancient Greece
By Paul Wood in Athens

If you worried that too much junk food may be rotting your brain then maybe Athens is the place for you.

Chefs there have painstakingly recreated the food that would have been on the menu for their ancient ancestors 2,500 years ago.


What we want is to go back to our roots and see exactly what these people were eating

Suli Adamis
After two years of research, the chefs at the Archaion Gefsis (Ancient Tastes) restaurant say they have managed to reconstruct some of the most popular recipes of two and a half millennia ago in Athens.

Their menu of classical times offers dishes like pork, seared in honey and vinegar - a meal written about by Aristophenes.

There is also cuttlefish, grilled in its own ink with pine nuts, and, a favourite then and now, barbecued goat.

The restaurant's joint owner, Suli Adamis, who researched the recipes, said: "Here you find no sugar, no rice, no tomato, nothing of all this.

"No ingredient that they couldn't use at that time.

"We have got tired of fast foods and the plastic foods. What we want is to go back to our roots and see exactly what these people were eating."

Authenticity problem

Much of what is seen as traditional in Greek culture, music, dress, cooking, came from the Ottoman Turks.

Greek dishes like souvlaki and moussaka are in fact examples of Ottoman cuisine.

But much of what is known about how the ancient Greeks ate comes from books written centuries later.

Maria Pretzler, a food historian at the British School of Archaeology, says the recipes at Ancient Tastes have been well researched, but its hard to be exact about what the Ancient Greeks were eating.

"We really cannot say. I think authenticity is actually a bit of a problem here.

"Even if you excavate, say, a dish with remains of some food, you could never say what the quantities are. We only know about the ingredients. We cannot reconstruct how it actually tasted."

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