Yale University organic olive symposium celebrates ancient Greek cuisine



Yale University is hosting a two-day symposium entitled Ancient Greek Cuisine: Back to the Future that is expected to draw hundreds of guests to its Yale MacMillan Center.


The idea behind the event which was organized by Professor Tassos Kyriakides of the Yale School of Public Health was to introduce the philosophy, culture and wisdom of the ancient Greek diet which had relevance today.


He told Athenian-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) that the idea for the symposium come from a meeting he held last year with international award-winning organic farmer George Sakellaropoulos at his farm in Sparta, Laconia.


“We came up with the idea of a symposium, with the aim of introducing to the entire world, through Yale University, Greek quality products, such as olive oil and table olives, which were in the ‘trinity’ of the ancient Greek diet along with bread and wine, and on the other hand to connect them with our history, Ancient Greece, Ancient Sparta, from yesterday to today,” Prof Kyriakides said.


The olive oils and table olives from the Laconian farm were chosen for the symposium because of their quality and many scientifically proven benefits. The famous US university was carrying out a research project “Olives for Health” under the direction of Yale Olive Sciences and Health Institute (YOSHI) which was conducting research into the health benefits of the daily consumption of specific organic table olives.


Award-winning Michelin-star chef Michalis Psilakis who has studied Greek food heritage for more than two decades, would present food based on ancient Greek recipes.


Other participants at the symposium include Prof Paul Freedman of Yale’s History Department, the Secretary General of Hellenes Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Professor Ioannis Chrysoulakis, the Greek Consul in New York, Konstantinos Koutras as well as international olive oil judge and director Fil Bucchino whose documentary Obsessed with Oil will be shown at the event.


Samples of olive oils from Greece, Spain and Italy will be tasted on the second day and will be followed by a dinner following ancient Greek recipes.


“Maybe it’s time to go back to the old days and enjoy a way of life but also food that comes from the past. Maybe it’s time to take a step back so we can move forward,” Prof Kyriakides said.


He announced that he and Yale Public Health colleague, Dr Vassillis Vassiliou would launch the Olives for Health study in collaboration with Yale’s Department of Cardiology using Kalamon organic olives grown in the Sakellaropoulos groves as the focus of the research because of their high phenol content (over 1700mg/kg) while the average phenol content was about (370mg/kg).


“Therefore, the daily consumption of 3 grams of olives provides more than 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol or their derivatives, ingredients that have been attributed with antioxidant, cardioprotective and neuroprotective properties. This research programme starts in early September and will last two months, with the participation of four faculties of the University and about 300 volunteer students,” Prof Kyriakides said.


“Before the start of the nutritional research programme, blood samples will be taken from the volunteers, and then for six weeks, five olives will be added to their daily menu. At the end of this period, new blood samples will be taken.”


The results would be published in scientific journals and in the Clinicaltrials.gov clinical research database.

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