Another week, another blog. This time, we’re moving towards to Egypt! Overall, we were both super excited for Egyptian meals for various reasons. The key reason being there is a lot to choose from, thanks to the rigorous record keeping. We will be focusing on the time period, the 14th to 17th Dynasty.
We made this time Ghee and Dill baked Tilapia, Red Lentil Soup and Aish Baladi – Egyptian flatbreads.
Eat like an Egyptian
One of the large issues with looking at Egyptian food is that though they documented everything, sometimes in excruciating detail – they tended to not document their food. What we do know has been gleamed from the art they displayed on the wall. Once the Greco-Roman era started, we learn more about the foods they ate and how they were prepared. So unfortunately, this has made it hard for us to know what they where eating or even how it was prepared. This has been research by much greater minds than mine; who have spent careers trying to figure it out. We do know some of the food they ate from the archaeological record and from the written records. From there, we can assess what would have been eaten by the animals and plants that were available. But how it would have been prepared is still hotly debated.
Not all food is equal
We also know that certain foods would have been eaten by the Pharaohs and nobles. This would have left other foods, which would have been reserved by the working classes. For instance, we know that the upper classes would have been allowed to hunt. This would have given food options like: Rabbits, deer, gazelles, bulls, oryx, antelopes, hippopotamuses, elephants and lions. This means that meat would have been much more varied in their diets. This, along with certain foods like honey; would have been used by the upper classes. The working classes where allowed to fish and hunt water fowl like geese and ducks, meaning that their diets wouldn’t have had such a varied amount of proteins to choose from.
Meating the expectation in Ancient Egyptian
Regardless, we do know that their diets would not have included meat in them for every meal. Bread was a very large part of everyday life in Ancient Egypt. Their bread was usually made of emmer wheat. The meal we had would have been for the working classes. It consisted of lentils, carrots, tilapia, and a flatbread made from a mixture of emmer wheat and whole wheat.
We chose Tilapia for the simple fact that living in Kansas doesn’t offer itself to much in the way of seafood or much fish for that matter, the downside to being landlocked for as far as the eye can see in any direction. The reason that we used whole wheat in the flatbread is due to emmer wheat being kind of expensive here and wanting to make it stretch (as an any good Midwesterner would do).
What does the records say?
We know from the archeological records, that they had massive bakeries to feed the workers building the Pyramids of Giza. These bakeries would have been much like the industrial bakeries of our time. They would have had to grind the wheat up to make flour, then make the dough and cook it all right there. It would have been long hours, hot and hard work (and it still is for the most part – Now we have machines that do most of the work for us).
Yet again I need to preface this with, this is not my area of expertise. I do love reading about Ancient Egypt (I mean come on, who doesn’t?), but I have never been formally trained in Egyptology. I will do my best to provide you with as accurate details as I can.
We don’t know how many meals a day they ate or if they had specific food that they ate for meals like we do today with eggs for breakfast in the western world. We also don’t know if they had specific dining habits i.e. if they ate as a family at a table or if they just ate when they where hungry. A lot of these details require us to use Ethnography to base it off of what current people do in Egypt and the middle-east, along with other cultures that were similar at the time, which may have documented it better.
Now lets get to the topic that just about everyone loves to talk about, BEER! We know that they drank a lot of beer. But through much of human history in areas of heavy settlement; beer was your only choice for hydration. The waterways would have been polluted and undrinkable. But through the wonderful process of beer production, the water would have become safe to drink and would of had some fun side effects, if consumed in moderation. Beer may have also been used to pay workers. We chose not to have authentic Ancient Egyptian beer for a couple reasons, first it isn’t exactly sold on store shelves where we live and second I had no desire to try and produce and brew our own. Wine would have been enjoyed by the nobles as it is much more intensive to produce.
The meal we made may not have been as accurate as I would have liked it to have been, but it was still a very enjoyable meal. It was very hardy and the flatbread will fill you up fast; keeping full for quite a while. I would love to make it again and maybe try to make the flatbread with no whole wheat but the Midwesterner in me cries out when I think of the price of that idea.
Recipes of the meal
4 out of 5 stars
I preferred the soup over the fish and bread, but overall, was a solid, filling meal.
4 out of 5 stars
If I was going to say the main meal, it’s 3 star, but the bread is a 4 on it’s own.
https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/beer/ http://www.fao.org/country-showcase/item-detail/en/c/1287824/ https://rawi-magazine.com/articles/from-staples-to-luxuries/ https://oi-idb-static.uchicago.edu/multimedia/88/oimp33.pdf https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/recipes/ http://www.historicalcookingproject.com/2014/12/guest-post-ancient-egyptian-bread-by.html https://www.atthemummiesball.com/baking-ancient-egyptian-bread/ https://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/civil/egypt/egcl02e.html