Monday, January 16, 2017

Ancient Egyptian cuisine


Ancient Egyptian Cuisine

Introduction

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North-Eastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. It is one of six civilizations globally to arise independently.
The cuisine of ancient Egypt covers a span of over three thousand years, but still retained many consistent traits until well into Greco-Roman times. The staples of both poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread and beer, often accompanied by  green shooted onions, other vegetables, and to a lesser extent meat, game and fish

Geographical Features
The geography of Egypt relates to 2 regions:
1.North Africa
2. South West Asia  
Egypt has Coastlines on both the Mediterranean sea  and Red sea.
Egypt has an area of 1,001,449km

Festivals Of Egypt

Egypt is predominantly Muslim, but a large minority of Coptic Christians and a Melange of other religions make the country an exciting destination for religions, secular and ancient cultural festivals.For many of this celebrations, people pour out into the streets wearing traditional costumes to enjoy impromptu song and  dance performance and eat traditional foods like Fata(traditional dish of rice garlic and meat soup)
Sham al –naseem is a festival of Egypt whose traditional food is Midamis or Fuul(a dish made of kidney beans).Moulid an-nabi is a traditonal sweet like halawet el-moulid(A type of Halwa)

Mummification

Egyptians believed that when people die, they move on to another world.
Since people needed their body in the afterlife, it would need to be “preserved.”
The process of mummification was developed.

The Process of Mummification


First they would remove the organs.  These would go into canopic jars.
They would take the brain out through the nose.
They packed the body with natron (a salt mixture) that would remove all the moisture 
After several weeks, they would apply oil, wrap the body in bandages and place the body in a sarcophagus.  They would put a decorated mask on the body.
The body would be put in a chamber with all the things needed for the afterlife…food, riches, etc.Egyptians developed a form of picture or symbol writing known as hieroglyphics

Language

Egyptians developed a form of picture or symbol writing known as hieroglyphics

Religion

The Egyptians believed in many gods.
Egyptians prayed to different gods who controlled different things. 
They built temples and shrines to honor their gods.
The Egyptians believed in an “afterlife.”


Pharaohs

The king or ruler of Egypt was called a Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh was seen as a god.
Everyone worked for the pharaoh.
When he died, the pharaoh was mummified and buried in a beautiful chamber along with his belongings.
Like all civilizations, Egyptians had the need for laws.  The Pharaoh was the supreme judge of what was right and wrong under the law.

Ramadan significance
Athough Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually a time when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food variety and richness, since breaking the fast is a family affair, often with entire extended families meeting at the table just after sunset. There are several special desserts served almost exclusive during Ramadan, such as Kunāfah  and Qatayef . In this month, many Egyptians prepare a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma'edet Rahman which translates literally as Table of (God) the Gracious (Merciful).


Food

Ancient Egyptians are known to have used a lot of garlic and onions in their everyday dishes. Fresh garlic mashed with other herbs is used in spicy tomato salad and also stuffed in boiled or baked aubergines (eggplant). Garlic fried with coriander is added to Molokheyya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can be also added to Koshari

Meat
Meat came from domesticated animals, game and poultry. This possibly included partridge, quail, pigeon, ducks and geese. The most important animals were cattle, sheep, goats and pigs (previously thought to have been taboo to eat because the priests of Egypt referred pig to the evil god Seth).Beef was generally more expensive and would at most have been available once or twice a week, and then mostly for the royalty.Mutton and pork were more common. Poultry, both wild and domestic and fish were available to all but the most destitute. The alternative protein sources would rather have been legumes, eggs, cheese and the amino acids available in the tandem staples of bread and beer

Bread
The basic food was bread - wheat was the most important crop used to make bread.
Egyptian bread was made almost exclusively from emmer wheat, which was more difficult to turn into flour than most other varieties of wheat
The baking techniques varied over time. In the Old Kingdom, heavy pottery molds were filled with dough and then set in the embers to bake. 
Tombs from the New Kingdom show images of bread in many different shapes and sizes. Loaves shaped like human figures, fish, various animals and fans, all of varying dough texture. Flavourings used for bread included coriander seeds and dates, but it is not known if this was ever used by the poor.


Vegetables
Vegetables were eaten as a complement to the ubiquitous beer and bread, and the most common were long shooted green scallions and garlic and both also had medical uses. There was also lettuce, celery (eaten raw or used to flavor stews), certain types of cucumber and, perhaps, some types of Old World gourds and even melons. By Greco-Roman times there were turnips, but it is not certain if they were available before that period. Various tubers of sedges, including papyrus were eaten raw, boiled, roasted or ground into flour and were rich in nutrients.


Fruits
The most common fruit were dates and there were also figs, grapes (and raisins), dom palm nuts (eaten raw or steeped to make juice), certain species of Mimusops, and nabkberries (a species of the genus Ziziphus). Figs were so common because they were high in sugar and protein. The dates would either be dried/dehydrated or eaten fresh. Dates were sometimes even used to ferment wine and the poor would use them as sweeteners. Unlike vegetables, which were grown year round, fruit was more seasonal. Pomegranates and grapes would be brought into tombs of the deceased.

Beverages of Egypt
In Egypt beer was a primary source of nutrition, and consumed daily. Beer was such an important part of the Egyptian diet that it was even used as currency. It was an important source of protein, minerals and vitamins and was so valuable that beer jars were often used as a measurement of value and was used in medicine. Little is known about specific types of beer, but there is mention of, for example, sweet beer but without any specific details mentioned. barley was grown to make bread and also used for making beer, and so were lily seeds and roots, and tiger nut. Wine was produced by the first Dynasty in extensive cellars. Accurate records were kept of the vintages and quality of wines, jars were clearly labeled. Wine was a luxury and the main consumption took place as:  Offerings to the gods and dead  Pharaoh, nobles and the priests in temple ceremonies and party banquets In party scenes on the tomb walls, there are a number of images depicting the guests throwing up or being carried home because of their drunken state, drunkenness was seen as an amusement. Hathor was the goddess of wine and beer, temples associated with the goddess had their own vineyards to make sure that the celebrants had enough wine for the rituals. 

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