Numerous hieroglyphic carvings and symbolic pictures of ancient Egyptian food from the Old and New Kingdoms have been discovered in temples and tomb walls in Egypt.
Despite the lack of historical instructions, we have a good picture of how the Egyptians made their food because of the dioramas and other valuable artifacts found in tombs.
The truth is that much has been said to describe the ancient Egyptian banquets, but they remain a mystery to us. You understand that these banquets happened during ceremonial, religious, and joyous occasions, with a large number of artworks representing them throughout history. However, I bet you know relatively little about them other than their imagined luxury and opulence.
You may have often heard that the ancient Egyptians have a notoriety for being death-obsessed people. They must have spent considerable time thinking about what the deceased might require in the hereafter. Weapons, money, and captives have all been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs, together with food and everything related to it, such as drinks, including alcoholic and natural beverages.
You can usually see that the carvings depict several seating arrangements depending on social standing, with the upper class sitting on important seats, the middle class on stools, and the lower class on the rough, cold ground.
What Food Did the Egyptian Eat?
The carbon dating analysis revealed that early Egyptians ate a consistent diet in every aspect of their lives. However, some studies of early archeologists predicted that their diets would vary over time.
The ancient Egyptian meals were important, and most of the Egyptians preferred vegetarian diets based on the second discovery. Do you want to know what constituted the ancient royal appetite? Pharaohs’ food was always a sumptuous collection of the best meat, bread, fruit, vegetables, cakes, wine, and honey. In contrast, peasants feasted on simple bread and fish.
Early Egyptians had access to the richest soil for planting vegetables because of the Nile River. Bread and beer were the staple foods of the people in the past, which they typically served with fruits, herbs, and fish for the underprivileged and meat and poultry for the wealthy.
Ancient Egypt foods and drinks symbolized their economic status, religious background, educational status, and employment. Spices were extremely important and should not be missed in their cuisine because it was believed that even gods were fond of spices, grapes, and wine.
The Nile River was anticipated to overflow every year, burying places in a thick layer of mud and sludge. For the people, this situation was equally significant because it supplied nutrients to farm soil. Water from the Nile was utilized to irrigate farmlands, ensuring that the ancient people had plenty of food to cultivate and eat.
According to the carbon isotopes produced by notable archeologists, the mummies they analyzed had eaten little meat and fish in their diets. Nevertheless, a number of animal bones recovered at sites, as well as portrayals of meat and fish in their artwork on walls, provide contradictory evidence for this claim.
The primary food of ancient Egypt, such as barley and emmer, has been used to produce beer and bread, which were the Egyptian primary diet mainstay. Cultivated grains were kept in granaries until they were ready to be processed. The supplies gathered each season considerably surpassed the country’s needs, and most of these were exported to neighboring nations, creating a lucrative source of revenue for Egypt’s government.
Have you seen the riverbanks in the Nile? The riverbanks maintained a diverse range of plants and animals that brought food for the ancient Egyptians under normal circumstances. The overwhelming bulk of farm work in the agricultural sector was extremely vital for the economy to thrive.
Farmers stopped canals and kept the water for irrigation when the floodwaters started to subside in mid-September. The shaduf, an irrigation device developed to lift water from a deep well, is still in use today. It was originally operated by hand, but in our modern times, it is a motorized irrigation device that transports water from canals to fields. Through moving the bucket of water from the canals to the fields, enough water supply can be generated for the crops on the ground.
Egyptian Food Is a Source of Prosperity and Fertility
Do you know that other ancient nations’ traditional foods were usually unhealthy and less nutritious? However, it was not like that for ancient Egyptians. For thousands of years, Egyptian food has been the source of overall prosperity and fertility that made Egypt the center of other kingdoms’ envy. You could tell that they were all working in the field, but Egypt’s produce was always outstanding.
Egypt’s economy relied heavily on livestock, which provided meat and milk for the people. Animal skins and dung were used as fuel sources. Agricultural output was boosted through using animals, such as oxen. Herders and shepherds lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, pasturing their livestock in the Nile’s marshes.
Although the peasants cultivated the land, the monarch, his officials, and the temples owned it. Farmers were required to meet grain quantities, which were passed on to the owners as a tax. They were given permission to acquire a proportion of the crops for themselves. Nevertheless, if they did not generate sufficient quantities, they were harshly penalized.
Bread Making Caused Early Dental Problems
Bread was a staple of ancient Egyptian food, and both the wealthy and the poor enjoyed it. Bread was baked from wheat or barley and eaten on a regular basis. Kneading bread was a laborious process that began with ladies pounding grains into flour on the floor with a grinding mill.
To simplify the process and speed things up, minimal sand was poured into the grinder. Consequently, the bread contained sand, which was linked to various dental issues, including tooth decay.
The food habits of ancient Egyptians are also revealed by mummies. After intensive research of a mummy’s teeth, scientists have discovered that the known cause of their dental problems was the presence of sand in bread and other food products that they consumed. It has been hypothesized that sand got into their food and caused significant harm to their teeth over time.
Don’t be surprised about the way people prepared food in the past. You might be startled at the manner food was prepared before. Quartz, mica, and other foreign elements, including germs, were virtually always present in flour due to the rudimentary equipment used to bake bread.
Bread was made by combining flour and milk and then beating the dough in large vessels with both hands or feet. Before the dough was placed in a baking pan or pressed, yeast, salts, spices, milk, and usually cheese and eggs were incorporated for a more palatable taste.
Grapes were used to make red and white wines, which were mixed with spices and honey by the ancient Egyptians. Fruits, such as dates, were used to make various nonalcoholic beverages.
Surprisingly, most ancient Egyptians did not drink fresh water from the Nile because they saw that it made some people unwell. They drank beer instead.
You should note that the workers of Giza Pyramids were actually paid with beer, bread, and onions. They preferred to be paid in kind instead of money.
Beer was created by half-cooking barley, then soaking it in water and allowing it to settle. It was an extremely healthy diet with a high protein, minerals, and vitamin content. It was the consistency of a milkshake and contained only a small amount of alcohol.
Until the New Kingdom, there were no popular bakeries, but numerous cooks were employed for workgroups, the army, the royal residence, and temple workers. Common feasts were frequently accompanied by beer or wine for the wealthy families. Beer was generally fermented with wheat; however, stale bread was occasionally used.
Every meal included vegetables, meat, and grains, as well as wine and dairy goods, such as eggs and cream. Priests and nobility had access to much greater food. Honey-roasted wild gazelle, pomegranates, and a berry-like fruit called jujube with honey pastries for sweets are described in tombs.
Fishing provided diversity to laborers’ diet. The underprivileged ate fish instead of beef because they couldn’t afford it. The Nile, the Delta Marsh, and the Mediterranean Sea provided them with a broad range of environments.
Hooks and lines, decoys, traps, and nets were all used to catch fish. Birds, such as swans and ducks, were also caught in the Nile’s wetlands and papyrus thickets. Skiffs are small fishing boats made of papyrus stalks, which are naturally loaded with air bubbles and thus quite full of buoyancy. In the Nile wetlands, skiffs were also utilized for hunting wildlife.
Large loaves with an empty middle are sometimes prepared and filled with beans, vegetables, or other ingredients. Flat bread with elevated sides was often used to accommodate eggs or other ingredients. Bread was later combined with different components, and the distinctions between bread and pastries disappeared. It was also frequently flavored with honey or dates and seasoned with sesame, aniseed, or fruits.
The ancient Egyptians utilized a wide range of spices, many of which are still widely used in the country today. Coriander, sumac, nigella, and sesame seeds are some of the herbs used. Interestingly, although chickpeas were farmed in Syria and Southern Turkey as early as 9000 BC, the ancient Egyptians seemed to have little or no awareness of sesame seeds.
The key elements in something which the area is recognized for today (hummus) are sesame seed paste (tahini) and chickpeas, although this incredibly nourishing and simple dish was unfamiliar to the ancient Egyptians. You should remember that it was unacceptable to have a meal short on hummus.
How Did Egyptians Keep Their Animals?
Meanwhile, did you know that the ancient Egyptians had a close relationship with their livestock? It was probably the reason why sharing their living quarters with animals was common. The ancient Egyptians took care of some animals for food, but the Greeks noted that there was devotion in their connection with them.
There were animals that they worshipped and prayed to, such as hawks, crocodiles, fish, cats, jackals, and serpents. The ancient Egyptians seemed to have realized the significance of animal care over 4,500 years ago, such that worship of these little creatures was paramount to their salvation and grand future.
They kept a wide range of animals, including cows, goats, lambs, chickens, ducks, and geese. This is simply one more proof of their skill in animal raising. You can see the resemblance of Egyptian culture to many other races because banquets, festivals, and other festivities were common, and their exceptional diet might have played a significant role in their ancient world prosperity.
This practice allowed the expansion of herding or animal husbandry practices that are still existing nowadays despite the ever-changing landscape of the animal and farming industry in a world where technology seems to overtake everything.
They seemed to be knowledgeable about diabetes as well. According to the legend, a doctor would make a patient pee on the ground near some ants. If the ants were lured, then the patient had diabetes because of the high sugar concentration in the urine.
You will probably never be able to taste ancient Egyptian cuisine right now. You know much about the meals they ate. Nonetheless, despite the decades of archeological research and restorations conducted to learn more about Egyptian cuisine, unlike Greeks and Romans, Egyptians didn’t leave us any cookbooks to explore in today’s age.
Every civilization leaves a remarkable image of their lifestyle, food, faith, and even ambition. Food is a basic need for everyone and learning about the kind of diet ancient Egyptians had enjoyed gives us a monumental reason to believe that their food was paramount to their strength, wisdom, culture, aspirations, and even death.
The considerable testimonies about how Egyptians produced their food allow us to believe that they massively ruled the world with pride. Having an imagined dinner with royal Egyptians is enough for us to feel the taste of royal cuisine. What more if we could go back in time!