Ancient Egyptian Food and Drink

Ancient Egyptians made beer by half cooking barley, soaking it in water and leaving it to set. They had to strain the clumps of barley out before drinking it.

ThemeatAncient Egyptians ate was much like the meat eaten today in northeast Africa. There was pigeon, quail, mutton, beef, fish and pork. Milk was another source of nutrition, also used to make cheese and butter.

Historians do know that Egyptians boiled, stewed, baked and roasted foods overfire. Wood was the most popular fuel. Charcoal was available sparingly. The precise preparations of food cooked over fire remain elusive.

© Ashley Van Haeften – Woman grinding grains

Facts About Food and Drink Ancient Egypt:

The most popular menu item in Ancient Egypt wasbread. Wheat and barley were staples in Ancient Egyptian farming. Cooks made bread with the flour produced from these grains. Some seeds and nuts also made their way into the dough. Like today, cooks seasoned bread to alter the taste. It is unclear whether this was class specific or both poor and rich alike used seasoning.

When grinding grains, some of the stone used would wear away into the flour, which people would then eat. This often led to severe tooth erosion.

An important key in finding information about the diet of ancient Egyptians is theartworkleft behind. A variety of art pieces depict the types of foods they ate, how they ate them, how they prepared them and who ate what. Tomb murals and similar paintings show virtually every aspect of daily life, so, naturally, the art depicts food too.

Click here to check out someAncient Egyptian recipes

Themortar and pestlehas not changed since ancient times. Still, it was much more important in Ancient Egyptian cuisine than in modern fare. Today, we have machines that can reduce grain and seasonings to powder. In Ancient Egypt, people ground grains and seasonings by hand using these basic tools.

Bakers used to shape bread dough into various figures, including animals and humans.

In Ancient Egypt, the food and drink people consumed depended on the location – a harsh stretch of land in North-Eastern Africa – and the tools and recipes they had already developed. Nonetheless, cuisine in Ancient Egypt was not much different from the food we eat today.

© Jim Forest – Ancient Egyptians baking and brewing beer

Ancient Egyptians had plenty offlavorto add to their foods. There was mustard, salt, cumin, coriander, honey, dill and vinegar. A flavorful dish would have been easy using these ingredients.

The term Ancient Egypt covers thousands of years, during which leadership and trade changed. These changes sometimes led tochanges in local cuisine. For example, while Egypt is in Africa, it is close enough to the Middle East for trading between the two regions. Therefore, the food is a combination of the cuisines of two continents Africa and Asia.

The ancient world was not generally good for the health. People lived much shorter lives and often had access toless nutritious foods. However, the overall prosperity and fertility of Ancient Egypt made it a place of plenty, at least for the wealthy. Had the food not been as rich, the empires would not have lasted as long as they did. Generally speaking, there was a lot of food and drink in Ancient Egypt. It was just a lot harder to prepare than it is in modern society.

© Andrej Blagojević – Preserved grains

In spite of the vast desert, there was plenty of fertile soil. Ancient Egyptians were able to farm manycropswe recognize today. A meal might include celery, garlic, beans, peas, nuts, lentils or lettuce. There is also evidence of olive oil. Fruits including figs, grapes and perhaps melons were also present.

A modern person would recognize most of thetoolsin an Ancient Egyptian kitchen. Fingers were eating utensils, but ladles, knives and spoons were still present for cooking. Even whisks were available to the ancient cook. Bowls, pots and pans are among the artifacts found in Ancient Egyptian ruins.

Potterywas important to cooking in Ancient Egypt. They could fill it with bread dough and set it over the fire to bake. It could store olive oil or serve as a vessel for cooking meats and vegetables. Metal was also available in Ancient Egypt. Metal dishes and utensils made up the eating tools of the rich.

It is clear that we prepare much of thetraditional foodin Ancient Egypt, like bread and meat, in largely the same way today. For example, the tandoor oven that makes todays naan bread had a cousin in Ancient Egypts kitchens. Cooks slap the dough on the hot walls of the oven and it makes flat bread.

Beerwas the cornerstone of Ancient Egyptian beverages. Wine was available as well, but much less often and primarily to the rich. The barley used for bread was also used for beer. Unlike today, when drinking beer everyday is taboo, it was necessary in Ancient Egypt. People even traded with it.

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