Eat Like an Egyptian

An article by Stephanie Butler publised on
history.com october 2013
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Archeological discoveries have told us much about how ancient Egyptians worshiped, celebrated and mourned. But these scientific finds have also provided tantalizing clues about how–and what–this complex civilization ate. From grains like emmer and kamut to cloudy beer and honey-basted gazelle, this week’s Hungry History focuses on the meals of ancient Egypt.

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Bread and beer were the two staples of the Egyptian diet. Everyone from the highest priest to the lowliest laborer would eat these two foods every day, although the quality of the foods for the priest would undoubtedly be higher. The main grain cultivated in Egypt was emmer. Better known today as farro, emmer happens to be a fairly well balanced source of nutrition: it’s higher in minerals and fiber than similar grains. Breads and porridge were made from the grain, as well as a specially devised product that modern-day archeologists call “beer bread.”

Eat Like an Egyptian_02Beer bread was made from dough that used more yeast than normal breads, and it was baked at a temperature that didn’t kill off the yeast cultures. Brewers crumbled the bread into vats and let it ferment naturally in water. This yielded a thick and cloudy brew that would probably disgust our modern palates. But it was also nourishing and healthy, and filled in many nutritive deficiencies of the lower-class diet.

But ancient Egyptians did not survive on carbohydrates alone: Hunters could capture a variety of wild game, including hippos, gazelles, cranes as well as smaller species such as hedgehogs. Fish were caught, then salted and preserved; in fact fish curing was so important to Egyptians that only temple officials were allowed to do it. Honey was prized as a sweetener, as were dates, raisins and other dried fruits. Wild vegetables abounded, like celery, papyrus stalks and onions.

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Although no recipes from the times remain, we have a fair idea of how the Egyptians prepared their food thanks to dioramas and other objects left in tombs. Laborers ate two meals a day: a morning meal of bread, beer and often onions, and a more hearty dinner with boiled vegetables, meat and more bread and beer. Nobles ate well, with vegetables, meat and grains at every meal, plus wine and dairy products like butter and cheese. Priests and royalty ate even better. Tombs detail meals of honey-roasted wild gazelle, spit-roasted ducks, pomegranates and a berry-like fruit called jujubes with honey cakes for dessert. To top it all off, servant girls would circulate with jugs of wine to refill empty glasses: the perfect end to an Egyptian banquet.

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Teurdada Biase – Malaysian Family Omelet / Malaysisk Famileomelett

A spicy Asian omelet recipe found in “Asia – En Kulinarisk Reise” (Asia – A Culinary Voyage) published by
Grøndahl Dreyer in 1987
Teurdada Biase – Malaysian Family Omelet / Malaysisk Famileomelett

This thin omelette with lots of spring onions and red and green chili is a popular little dish in the Malaysian cuisine and is often served with different main courses.

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Greek Walnut and Brandy Cake / Gresk Valnøtt- og Brandykake

A juicy cake recipe found in “90 Years of KitchenAid –
The Cook Book” published in 2009

Greek Walnut and Brandy Cake / Gresk Valnøtt- og Brandykake

This syrup-soaked walnut cake is best served with a cup of espresso coffee. If the Metaxa is too strong for you, you could replace it with a fortified wine such as Vin Santo or sherry.

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West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce / Vestafrikansk Kylling i Peanøttsaus

A savoury chicken recipe from the African continent
found in “The best of International Cooking”
published by Hamlyn in 1984

West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce / Vestafrikansk Kylling i Peanøttsaus

West African cuisine encompasses a diverse range of foods that are split between its 16 countries. In West Africa, many families grow and raise their own food, and within each there is a division of labor. Indigenous foods consist of a number of plant species and animals, and are important to those whose lifestyle depends on farming and hunting.

The history of West Africa also plays a large role in their cuisine and recipes, as interactions with different cultures (particularly the Arab world and later Europeans) over the centuries have introduced many ingredients that would go on to become key components of the various national cuisines today.

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Bangkok Chili Wings / Chilikrydrede Kyllingvinger fra Bangkok

A spicy Thai snack recipe found on bhg.com
Bangkok Chili Wings / Chilikrydrede kyllingvinger fra Bangkok

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Bombay Turkey / Bombay Kalkun

A dinner recipe found in “Better Homes and Gardens
Recipe Card Library” published in 1978
Bombay Turkey / Bombay Kalkun

Compared to most westernized Indian recipes this dish seems to be rather potent. Usually recipes like this goes for 1 – 2 teaspoons of curry powder, this one goes for 2 – 3 tablespoons.

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Albondigas – Mexican Soup / Meksikansk Suppe

A healthy soup recipe found in “Rethink School Lunch –
Cooking With California Food” an E-book published
by Center for Ecoliteracy

Albondigas – Mexican Soup / Meksikansk Suppe

This is a classic version of the popular Mexican soup. The meatballs provide protein, while rice adds whole grains to this healthful dish. If desired, you can use all beef instead of half beef and half pork.

If you would like to download
‘Rethink School Lunch – Cooking With California Food
click the title above

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Tarta de Santiago – Galician Almond Cake / Galiciske Mandelkake

A Spanish dessert speciality found on epicurus.com
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Tarta de Santiago is a wonderful Spanish cake with deep regional roots in the northern region. The flavor is amazing.

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Dadar Gulung – Filled Coconut Pancakes from Sumatra / Fylte Kokospannekaker fra Sumatra

A dessert recipe found in “Cappelens Internasjonale kjøkken – Indonesia” (Cappelen’s International Kitchen – Indonesia)
published in 1994
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Sumatran food is traditionally very spicy with lots of chilli, lemon grass, ginger, garlic and coriander. Some of the spiciest food in all of Indonesian is the Padangese food from Padang in West Sumatra. Their desserts on the other hand is southingly sweet and mellow.

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Bamboo Garden’s Thai Crispy Beef / Sprøstekt Thai Biff fra Bamboo Garden

A Thai inspired beef recipe found on baltimoresun.comBamboo Garden’s Thai Crispy Beef / Sprøstekt Thai Biff fra Bamboo Garden

Chef Chen Lin Chang at Bamboo Garden in Bel Air draws inspiration from across Asia. In his crispy beef dish, he focuses on the cuisine of Thailand. Thai food is known for its intense flavors, liberal use of fresh vegetables and — sometimes — extreme heat. Though the dishes often taste complex, they can be fairly simple to replicate at home.

The key to this dish is in the sauce — a sweet, salty, tangy mixture with a spicy twist. The preparation is straightforward, and the recipe is customizable. It works with many different cuts of beef, and the vegetables included (and their quantities) can be adjusted by preference and season. Thai crispy beef is a great way to make use of whatever is growing in your summer garden.

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Cambodian Chicken-and-Rice Soup with Shrimp / Kambodsjansk Kylling-og-Ris Suppe med Reker

A spicy Asian soupe recipe found on foodandwine.com
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The chef’s way: For this spicy, soothing and restorative chicken-and-rice soup, Ratha Chau prepares his own delectable chicken stock and roasts a chicken, which is then cut into large pieces and added to it.

The easy way: Using prepared stock and preroasted chicken significantly cuts back on prep time.

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Kinafa – Traditional Lebanese Sweet Breakfast / Tradisjonelle Libanesiske Søt Frokokst

A popular Lebanese breakfast dish fould on sbs.com.auKinafa – Traditional Lebanese Sweet Breakfast / Tradisjonelle Libanesiske Søt Frokokst

Kinafa is a traditional Lebanese sweet that’s popular for breakfast, mainly on Sundays. Usually the whole family gathers to enjoy this warm dish for a lazy and rich breakfast.

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Roganjhost – Mild Lamb Curry / Mild Lammekarri

A mild Indian curry recipe found in “Asia – En Kulinarisk Reise”
(A Culinary Voyage) published by Grøndahl Dreyer in 1987
Roganjhost – Mild Lamb Curry / Mild Lammekarri

Roganjhost are among the dishes you will find on the menu all over India. These tender lamb cubes in a creamy, aromatic sauce, lightly spiced and with just a hint of chili, is a good example that curries need not be burning hot to be delicious.

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Gulyás-Soup / Gulyás-Suppe

A classic Hungarian soup recipe found in “Berømte Retter”
(Famoud Dishes) published by Ernst G Mortensens Forlag in 1970
Gulyás-Soup / Gulyás-Suppe

Goulash (Hungarian: gulyás [ˈɡujaːʃ]) is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating from the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, goulash is also a popular meal in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Southern Europe.

Its origin traces back to the 9th century to stews eaten by Hungarian shepherds. Back then, the cooked and flavored meat was dried with the help of the sun and packed into bags produced from sheep’s stomachs, needing only water to make it into a meal. It is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country.

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Pisang Goreng – Indonesian Fried Bananas / Indonesiske Friterte Bananer

A dessert recipe found in “Cappelens Internasjonale kjøkken – Indonesia” (Cappelen’s International Kitchen – Indonesia)
published in 1994

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I’m a real sucker for deep fried bananas. When at a Thai or Chinese restaurant I don’t even bother to check the menu when it’s time for dessert, I know what I want, deep fried bananas

Ted
Winking smile

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