Food and Diet of the Ancient Egyptians

Foods & DrinksFood

  • Author Vance Lassiter
  • Published April 28, 2010
  • Word count 372

Food was seldom scarce in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians relied on the yearly flooding of the Nile to create fertile lands that yielded crops that fed the masses. Scenes of raising livestock were a a popular subject of art on Egyptian walls and tombs. Also popular are scenes of fisherman, fishing and other art that demonstrates the preparation of fish for eating along with foul being prepared for meals.

Egyptian art more often portrayed the act of food preparation than the food itself. However, banquets and feasts were common amongst the nobles. Beef and goose were popular dishes amongst the nobles and wealthy, but were not every day food.

Ordinary Egyptians could expect a healthy dose of fish in their diet as it was readily available. Once fish were gutted they were often hung to dry or preserved in salt. Fisherman had to reserve some of their catch as payment to Egyptian government officials, but were allowed to keep the remainder for food and trade.

The preparation was the domain of Egyptian women in important domestic duty. Egyptian dining rooms were simple with low tables and chairs. Mealtime often took place seated on the floor, sometimes at a low table. Evidence suggests that the Egyptians referred eating with their hands not with utensils.

Throughout Egypt, vegetables and fruits were plentiful. Celery, leeks, onions, cucumbers, beans, radishes and lentils were popular vegetables. The Egyptians favored spices like marjoram, coriander and dill to add flavor to their food. Grapes, figs, pomegranates, berries and dates were bountiful and enjoyed at meals.

Along with grapes, the ancient Egyptians make wine for dates, figs and pomegranates. Beer was a popular drink. The Egyptian version was made from wheat and often flavored with fruit.

A Greek scholar named Athenaeus who journeyed to Egypt in the 3rd century wrote that Egyptian beer was very strong and an aided in the enjoyment of song and dance. Wineries were found in the regions of the western desert and the Delta.

Ancient Egyptian life may not have offered the conveniences that many of us enjoy today; however, nourishment was rarely an issue as the lands and the Nile provided a rich variety of meats, vegetables and fruit for the citizens of Egypt.

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