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Pleasure in Moderation

Greek Salad 1

Greek Salad 9

By Tim Hazell

Founded about 307 BC, Epicureanism is a philosophy system based upon the teachings of Epicurus, a Greek whose house and garden provided a gathering place for enthusiasts.

Epicurean ideas encompassed both physical theory and ethical doctrine. The Epicureans had three criteria of truth; sensations (aisthesis), preconceptions (prolepsis), and feelings (pathe). Prolepsis, or preconception, was synonymous with universal ideas. Sensation was knowledge received from the five senses, and feelings were indicators of pleasure or pain.

Epicureanism grew in popularity to become one of the three dominant schools of Hellenistic philosophy, along with Stoicism and Skepticism. A modest life and pursuit of worldly understanding led to a state of tranquility (ataraxia), and freedom from fear and pain (aponia). When combined, these two states produced a transcendent, permanent condition of bliss. Here is an Epicurean maxim:

“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well, and it is impossible to live wisely and well without living a pleasant life.”

Epicureans recommended pleasure in moderation as the ultimate state of well-being. Overindulgence and suffering were intrinsically linked. Attainment of deep satisfaction involved self-control, with pleasures of the mind taking precedence over mere physical gratification. When it came to the palate, choosing the right person to eat with was of greater importance than the menu, as illustrated by this quote:

“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the existence of a lion or wolf.”

Ancient Greeks grew foods that could be easily cultivated in rocky terrain. Breakfast was eaten just after sunrise and consisted of bread dipped in wine. Lunch included olives, figs, cheese, or dried fish. Supper was the main meal of the day, eaten shortly before sunset, consisting of vegetables, fruit, fish, and possibly honey cakes.

Fish provided the Greeks with their main source of protein. Meat was a rarity for all but the affluent. Water, preferably from a spring, and watered-down wine were the main beverages. Milk was used primarily for cheese production.

Greek cuisine was characterized by its frugality. It was founded on the “Mediterranean triad” of wheat, olive oil, and wine.

Horiatiki is a traditional Greek salad of simple ingredients, a refreshing side dish or light meal in sultry weather. Enjoy!



3 medium tomatoes, quartered, or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium red onion, sliced into rings

1 cucumber, unpeeled, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced

1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

16 pitted black olives

Salt to taste



1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

200g feta cheese (7 oz), crumbled or cubed

Good pinch dried oregano



Place tomatoes, onion, cucumber, bell pepper, and black olives in a large bowl. Lightly season with salt, and pour over the olive oil and vinegar dressing. Toss and served topped with the feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and dried oregano. Enjoy as a side dish or as a light meal with lots of crusty bread!


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