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Funky foods from ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian civilization is known for its advanced culture, mummies, pharaohs, and majestic pyramids. As the population grew along the mighty Nile, so did appetites and eating habits that would spawn a new class of people: foodies.

Archaeological discoveries of tombs and other artifacts give us detailed insights into Egyptian cuisine. The most important takeaway (sorry, cheap pun) is that they generally ate much better than their contemporaries and enjoyed a wide variety of varied menu items.

Hungry? Time to go to the kitchen like an Egyptian.

8. Hedgehog

Here’s a riddle: which African mammals are cute and cuddly but covered in 6,000 spiky quills? Answer: Atelerix Albiventris – also known as Hedgehog. With an average length of less than 12 inches, this is it adorable mammal gets its name from the garden hedges they inhabit and their pig-like grunts. However, thousands of years ago, the Egyptians had a different word for them: dinner.

The little night walkers have back muscles that enable them to raise and lower their quills in response to threatening situations. The stiff, sharp spines, unlike those of the porcupine, are neither barbed nor poisonous. Although hedgehogs hibernate all day and primarily eat insects, they are also wild hunters and for the most part immune to many toxins. As a result, they can attack and snack on vipers and scorpions for a strange but well-rounded diet.

Not surprisingly, the Egyptians admired the hedgehog for its survival skills in the hot desert climate. This is reflected in works of art and amulets and is a symbol of rebirth after death due to its inverted hibernation. The actual eating of hedgehogs included one brilliant process in which the body was covered with clay and then baked over an open fire. After that, the hardened clay was broken up and removed, taking the prickly spines with it.

7. Papyrus

People who live in the fertile Nile Delta harvested dense thickets of papyrus stems for a variety of uses, including paper, baskets, and clothing. The tall, sturdy plants also provided an easily available source of food. According to HerodotusThe plant could be baked and eaten, and was a common staple of the Egyptian diet.

Similar to celery, the roots can be steamed into soups or simply eaten raw. The abundance of papyrus made it accessible to the masses, despite the high demand for all other uses – especially government production of Writing materials.

The word “paper” is derived from “papyrus” and is made from the pulp in the stem. The strips were then dried under pressure and formed into rolls that could be left intact or cut into sheets. After that, well-trained scribes (now known as writers) created important documents such as administrative documents, legal contracts and religious texts.

6. Ostriches

With its awkwardly thin legs, long neck, and large, bulging eyes, the ostrich will never win beauty contests in the animal kingdom. But in ancient Egypt, these strange-looking flightless birds were considered a total package and were highly valued for their eggs, meat, and shaggy feathers.

Struthio camelus “camel bird” is a native breed in North Africa that can live for up to 75 years in hot desert climates with limited water sources. Shepherds domesticated ostriches in specially designated holdings where the eggs were rated for their size, which is 20 times the weight of the average hen’s egg. In addition, the durable, hard bowls could be used to make jewelry or everyday items such as cups and bowls.

Ostrich feathers were coveted and used for decoration by the kings and members of the wealthy elite alike. The feathers also symbolized truth and justice. The decorations served as symbols of the Goddess Ma’atwho embodied the virtues as the patron saint of judges.

5. Gazelles

While trying to catch a Gazelle, Predators better bring their “A” game. This fast species, which roams through North Africa, belongs to the antelope family and was clocked at a speed of 100 km / h. They also have a unique behavioral trait called “stotting” – a natural defense mechanism. This enables them to jump in the air with the grace and power of Rudolf Nureyev sprint before the way like Usain Bolt. In other words, (extremely) fast food.

Similar to Native American culture, the ancient Egyptians had great respect for the animals they relied on to eat. Prayers and rituals were conducted to ensure the success of the hunt, which typically involved weapons such as arrows and spears.

Pharaohs were often seen in painting llead a triumphant kill – a cunning PR tactic that helped bolster their image as a powerful ruler. Several graves have been discovered revealing lavish honey-roasted gazelle dinners. A detail that suggests that the famous meat would most likely have been reserved for royal or religious leaders.

4. Marshmallows

Whether roasting around an open campfire or making S’Mores in the kitchen at home – marshmallows are a delicious dessert originated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. The word for the beloved treat is derived from the mallow plant that grows wild in swamps that are along the wetlands of the Nile.

Today, the marshmallows in the aisles of your local grocery store are made from corn syrup, gelatin, dextrose, artificial colors, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, and other polysyllabic ingredients that help make these fluffy treats so damn delicious. However, old pastry chefs took a more organic approach.

When making sweets, the juice was squeezed out of the mallow plant and mixed with nuts and honey. The sweet dish would then be served on special occasions and usually only consumed by royal subjects.

3. Liver fat

The controversial practice of force-feeding waterfowl like geese is usually associated with France and its famous production of Foie gras (Fatty liver). As early as 2500 BC BC Egyptian cooks were busy fattening birds as a valuable delicacy for the banquet table.

The procedure, now known as the gavage, repeats how the winged creatures take in extra calories to store fat for long migrations. However, animal rights groups have long spoken out against the production of foie gras for cruelty and grave abuse. But the French cannot be blamed outright as Egyptian chefs are largely responsible for promoting this nasty technique (sorry, another cheap pun).

An illustration can be found in Saqqara’s necropolis at the tomb of Mereruka, a key royal official during the 6th dynasty. The bas-relief scene shows workers holding a line of birds by their necks while shoving food down the throats of geese, ducks and cranes. Like many other Egyptian customs, the fattening of geese soon spread throughout the Mediterranean, as was the case with King Agesilaus of Sparta after a visit to Egypt in 361 BC. Established.

2. Hippos

hippo were both feared and revered as paradoxical beasts. The clumsy herbivores on land spent most of the day lounging casually in the water to protect their huge bodies from the scorching African sun. But at night the vigorous herbivores often got violently aggressive – and hungry – consuming 100 pounds of grass and decimated crops.

Despite weighing up to 6,000 pounds, an adult hippopotamus (Greek for “hippopotamus”) is able to overtake most people and cause fatal bites with its tusk-like canines. The large mammals can also swim and stay underwater for more than five minutes Upend boats with ease. Although the Egyptian hippopotamus population was not restricted by almost any other wildlife, it eventually came to be threatened with extinction because of its flesh, skin, and teeth.

To take one out, it took the skills of a well-organized hunting party. Artwork Men on a small boat who use harpoons, which are made of a wooden shaft with a metal or bone tip, are over 6,000 years old. Papyrus texts for treating a hippopotamus bite are also provided. Ouch.

1 beer

Long before Rock stars The Egyptians started the sauce from dusk to dawn to end up in rehab (and / or do reality TV). They started EVERY day with beer for breakfast. Lunch and dinner too. No, these old folks weren’t idiots, they were savvy townspeople who followed a surprisingly healthy regime adopted by all members of society, even children.

Thanks to the annual flooding of the Nile, agriculture fueled ancient Egypt’s robust economy. The bounty provided an abundance of emmer wheat, which was the two main staples: bread and beer. Although only royals and the upper class could afford to eat meat regularly, beer flowed as the preferred drink with every meal day and night.

The brewing process It used bread with a high yeast content that was crumbled in a vat and naturally fermented in water. Like the German Hefeweizen style, the contained thick and cloudy foam several beneficial nutrients like magnesium, selenium, potassium and B vitamins. Beer was also safer than drinking water from the river – not to mention keeping workers motivated as they build pyramids in the hot sun all day.

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