Ancient Greek bread was worshipped almost like a holy grail! Well, literally, in ancient Greece, there were competitions and prizes, poems and stories about bakers who would make best, tastiest and richest bread. It was considered as a work of art, so naturally, it was offered to their Olympian Gods on special holidays.
Two stand foremost among humans:From
Goddess Demeter—call her Earth if you like—
who nourishes mortals with solid food;
the other one came later, Semele’s son,(Dionysus)
who discovered the liquor of the grape,
and brought it to mortals, giving
the poor fellows surcease of sorrow…
The bread was a cake for them
On special holidays, (Artos) Ἄρτος (Ancient Greek word for cake-bread) was made with only the best ingredients and it would end up more like a cake due to “expensive” ingredient addition. Eggs were highly appreciated and if they were added to the dough, it had to be lifted to a divine level. Furthermore, they would add nuts, honey and dried fruits, but the main ingredient was alway the mighty Zea!
This special Ἄρτος, or cake, gave me so much inspiration. If we opt to use less Zea and much more Keto friendly ingredients, we might end up with an Ancient Greek Low-Carb bread creation!
Ancient Greeks and machines
In the times of antiquity, Ancient Greeks invented the Olynthus mill, two square millstones stacked on top of each other and turned with a lever. This was the ultimate machine for making flour out of anything. And yes, they also made flaxseed flour and almond flour using the same mechanism. They just loved inventing machines and technology. In fact, they even had robots serving wine diluted in perfect ratio with water at their special events.
Were ancient Greeks Ketonians?
Ha, that’s a good question, but no! Well, maybe the athletes and soldiers, especially Spartans 😉 It’s a known fact that Olympian athletes in ancient Greece ate predominantly meat, eggs and fish for their enormous strength!
On the other side, there’s a myth about civilised Athenians (most probably due to jealousy) who proclaimed that only villagers and barbarians eat butter. However, there is evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans used butter widely. The word butter originates from the Greek word “bou-tyron” just a type of cow’s cheese. But Greeks always used predominantly goat or sheep dairy, so that’s what I’ll be using here!!!
Let’s go back to Zea for a moment (even though it’s not Keto)
In various classical Greek sources, you can find references to a specific plant called Zea or Zeia which was not ever the same as wheat! For Homer, Zea was a synonym for fertility! In fact, the epithet “zeidoros“, literally means “Zea-gifting”, is appearing in Iliad to describe fertile land. More references we can find in Herodotus Histories! He recorded that exotic and flavour-loving Egyptians preferred Zea over wheat or barley. Even in newer history, based on medieval texts, Zea gave the name to the Piraeus harbour which is still called Marina Zeas!
As Apollonas already wrote, Zea, or as you might know it, Emmer, has superior nutrient content and it doesn’t contain that typical gluten known in wheat. Furthermore, it is extremely rich in minerals and fibre.
Now, I am not saying you will go back to eating carbs and cereals, but on special occasions, if you want to prepare a festive bread in honour of the Ancients, 100 or 150g of Triticum dicocum (the scientific name for Zea) will not be such a sin. In fact, if you use just 2 tablespoons of it, it can replace psyllium in real Keto baked goodies without jeopardising your Ketosis!