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Eat like the Ancient Greeks in Thessaloniki

Time travel, Taste!

Dear foodies, vegans and vegetarians, you know nothing about food if you’ve never had a look into prehistoric cuisine!

If you happen to be in Thessaloniki, make sure you check the PlantCult project from the University that studies prehistoric cuisine and focuses on plant-based food. How processed is our food now and how different was it back then? Which grains and plants have survived, and which ones should we bring back on our table?

The project doesn’t aim to find a comprehensive cooking book from ancient times (though – how cool would that be?) but they want to find out which ingredients and tools were used back then. Although we are very into food, we had never even thought about food from the past. We were missing out!

Take the time to stroll around Thessaloniki’s food markets. There are stands selling loose grains and beans. Many of them were well-known thousands of years ago already.

Grab a bag, go to the market and buy the ingredients for this delicious recipe!

This was certainly an eye-opener. Too bad that we have lost so many ingredients. The food that we tried and that was based on prehistoric cuisine was super good and completely plant-based!

Practical Information

“Married fava” recipe

Ingredients for 6 people if eaten as a starter

  • 500 grams of split Lathyrus seeds (Lathyrus sativus, Lathyrus ochrus  or Lathyrus clymenum).
  • 1 1/2 litre of water
  • Salt
  • 1 kilo onions
  • 1 cup olive oil (that would not have been used in Neolithic or Bronze  
  • Age times, olive oil was a luxury even during the historic period)


How to make it:

  • Place the seeds in a deep casserole/pan on the stove and cover them with water. Make sure that there is about 4 cm water above the seeds. Bring to boil, boil for 2-3 minutes and drain the water.
  • Put the seeds back to the pan together with 1 litre of water and bring to boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for as long as it takes for the seeds to dissolve into a consistency of a thick custard.
  • During the first 15 minutes of simmering remove the scum with a large spoon.
  • Add the salt half way during the cooking process, to your taste. Stir regularly and make sure the heat is not too strong as the mash may stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • During the last stages of cooking be careful not to get hot mash on your hands during stirring. The seeds will gradually dissolve as you stir them, approximately 45 minutes after simmering has begun. Others prefer to use the blender instead of letting the mash dissolve by cooking. You may need to add some extra water during the simmering process if the seeds have not dissolved and the water has evaporated.
  • To make the caramelised onions, give the olive oil in a frying pan and heat it well (make sure you do not reach the point where the oil starts burning).
  • Add the onions peeled and very coarsely chopped, season with salt and start frying them at a moderate heat.
  • Stir them regularly until they reach a nice golden colour and soft consistency. Make sure you do not quick-fry the onions but fry slowly. The onions should not be too fried nor simmered.
  • Place the fava mash (while still very hot) in a serving dish, make a slight depression with the back of a spoon in the centre.
  • Once the onions are ready, place them in the depression and around it or keep the extra onions to top up during serving.

You can replace the caramelised onions with fresh onions chopped or spring onions, chopped, cappers, lemon juice, olive oil and oregano.

Taste history!