Exploring the Humble Culinary History of Ancient Egyptian Food

Ancient Egyptian food
The French are known for their simple yet incredibly delicious dishes; the Chinese redefine the word 'takeout' by whipping up toothsome meals in no time, and the Egyptians know how to take the most unusual of ingredients and turn them into edible art on a plate. Let's take a look at the humble beginnings of the Egyptian cuisine.
While present-day Egypt has an array of delectable dishes, its ancient counterpart had simpler versions and practiced completely different ways of preparing meals. Some dishes survived the test of time and are still enjoyed the old-fashioned way. Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization that aligned itself along the Nile river.

It was first under the Ptolemaic Dynasty during the rule of Ptolemy Soter post Alexander the Great's demise. It soon became a Roman province after it changed hands and fell into the grasp of the Roman Empire.
Ancient Egypt was taken care of by the river Nile, where abundant water propelled surplus produce because of the valley's fertile soils. As a result, the development of the land was mercurial, causing ancient Egypt to experience a rapid rise in culture, harvested produce, and social betterment. When it comes to ancient Egyptian food, there isn't an elaborate account of masterful dishes but of flavorful, palette-friendly preparations that are still eaten today.
History of Ancient Egyptian Food
Egyptian Poisons
Ancient Egyptian model of a brewer
Model of Egyptian Brewer
Both the rich and the poor enjoyed a good pint of beer, where the former even drank wine. Beer was prepared using emmer wheat or barley, and went through an archaic brewing process that is still practiced in some parts of Africa.
Red Isis with wine, Ancient Egypt
Goddess Isis with Platter of Wine Offering
A preparation known as 'beer bread' was made, using well-leavened, semi-baked bread that was crumbled and passed through a sieve, where it was then fermented after it was washed in a vat with water. They would use either honey or dates to flavor the beer, where wine was made using plums, grapes, or even pomegranates - it was usually enjoyed by the elite.
Meaty Delights
Ancient Egyptians hunting wildfowl
Egyptians Hunting Fowl
The high class ancient Egyptians often indulged themselves by eating meat varieties like fish, beef, mutton, duck, goose, pork, heron, gazelle, crane, goat, and such. The food was generously flavored where the meats were either roasted or boiled. Foods were preserved by brining and salting, smoking, or drying in order to lengthen their shelf life. Honey and beer were also used as preservative agents.
Typical Egyptian Dish with Legumes and Falafel
Beef was the most expensive of meats to relish back in the day, therefore the poor ate vegetarian-based meals and rarely ever gratified themselves with the opposite - some would catch fish and hunt for fowl. The royalty of the land of course were fortunate enough to feast their senses on scrumptious non-vegetarian meals.
Royal Feasting
Wealthy Egyptian Women at a Banquet
There were banquets thrown by the wealthy people of ancient Egypt where entertainment was provided by dancers and musicians. Copious amounts of alcohol were provided for the rich to savor, whilst food was extravagantly-prepared and aplenty. Honey was an expensive ingredient therefore the poor used dates or carob (sweet pulp from the pods) as substitutes. The rich of course had no problem getting their hands on the best condiments and ingredients, including the finest that livestock could offer.
Ancient Luxuries
Spice bags egyptian market
Egyptian Spice Market
Spices weren't cheap back in the day. Fruits and vegetables were abundant in the land; legume and lentil varieties were also part of their staple diet. Vegetables that were common as part of a dish were, onion, turnip, radish, cabbage, cucumber, papyrus root, endive, garlic, coriander, celery, and seed types like linseed, sesame seeds etc. Fruits were given equal importance - olives, plums, melons, mandrakes, figs, dates, and the like, were given equal emphasis as part of the common man's meal.
Oriental sweets baklava
Famous Egyptian Sweet, Baklava
Egyptian sweets are as varied as the dishes that are concocted today; they were a luxury to eat, back in the day. Because the sweets were exorbitantly priced for the common man, only the wealthy were able to gorge on these decadent preparations. They were made using the finest ingredients, where honey, dates and nuts were the primary add-ons. For cakes and other baked goodies, high-grade flour was used (if, you could afford it) in the bakeries of ancient Egypt.
Bread, Bread, and More Bread
Ancient Egyptian model of baker kneading dough
Model of Egyptian Kneading Dough
There's nothing more delightful than a freshly-baked, crispy loaf of bread, and the Egyptians were good at making these in special bakeries around the country. Breads were a part of every meal and prepared using emmer wheat. Large open-topped clay ovens were using to bake the bread, where they were placed in a cylindrical-shaped enclosure and then carefully peeled off once they were cooked through. The breads were an interesting assortment of shapes that resembled animals, humans, and fish.
Ancient Egyptians used what they could in order to have a hot meal ready for consumption. While the rich were busy having three main course meals a day, the poor managed to get by with two or even one meal, with fruit making up the last of the day's grub. Special foods were imported like walnuts, plums, filberts, apples, pistachios, coconuts, and such. While the culture is a rich amalgamation of what was, the food preparations have evolved through leaps and bounds with many dishes retaining their classic charm even today.
Sand Beige Ancient Egypt Wallpaper