Few articles tell us about everyday life of the ancient Egyptians. What were their homes like? How was the education of their children? What did they feed on? In this article we will try to answer this last question. This way we can know a little more about everyday life, in this specific case, about food of the ancient Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians ate two or three times a day, at dawn the poorest workers ate bread with onions, and then made a stronger meal.
The richest classes made a light meal in the early hours and a great meal in the afternoon, which they could go on until the night. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians often used their hands to eat.
Ancient Egyptians ate around a small table and the children on the floor on cushions; the most favored classes had meat, fruit, bread and beer on their table; royalty consumed in addition to the latter, wines and juices.
Except for the poor class, the meat was available to everyone, except beef, only consumed by royalty or people like butchers, since it was a great expense to feed large animals; an animal could feed many people and only royalty sacrificed it for big parties and with the security of being able to consume it in later days.
Also domestic birds, small livestock and fish, were available to everyone, since they accessed them through hunting, since at that time the valley of Egypt was much greener and wetter and more animal species lived together.
The middle class raised sheep, pigs and goats for consumption or to sell in the markets.
In any case, meat was not the most consumed food; they consumed vegetables, legumes, eggs and milk as the main source of protein.
Vegetables were available to everyone, mainly onions. Salads, lentils or vegetables was the usual and most consumed among the ancient Egyptians, accompanied by beer and bread.
Cereals were consumed by all social classes; they also consumed cakes filled with dates or figs, the latter only accessible to the poor classes on special occasions.
Were they going hungry in ancient Egypt?
It was very difficult to starve in Ancient Egypt. In that case, it would be because the Nile did not increase enough to flood all farmland or because pests devour crops.
Normally, the entire ancient Egyptians were well nourished, since society promoted sharing food, making common meals … In addition, the Nile ensured that Egypt was a large granary, and could even store surpluses in silos.
These warehouses were organized by the royal administration during the years when the harvest was very abundant, thus preventing possible famines.
Bread in ancient Egypt
It is the tombs that provide us with information on the diet that the ancient Egyptians followed. Thanks to the Offering Lists we know the list of the necessary foods for the Hereafter.
The main diet of the ancient Egyptians was made of bread and beer. The presence of these cereals is because they are the most common in ancient Egyptian agriculture.
When it comes to bread, we can find many varieties. The simplest were with flour, water and salt or some sweet varieties with honey and dates, made in the ceramic oven.
Drinks in ancient Egypt
The other essential food in their diet, beer, was the favorite drink of the ancient Egyptians. The simplest elaboration processes consisted of mixing half-baked bread crumbs with water, and letting it ferment until it reached the desired degree of alcohol.
There were many types of beer: common beer, sweet, thick, strong … But the most common is that the beer was lowered with water, since this was given to the workers as payment of their salary.
Therefore, if it was very strong, it could influence the worker to perform his duties properly.
The wine was considered a luxury item for special occasions. The best wine in ancient Egypt was produced in the El Fayum region or in the Delta, but wines imported from other regions were also appreciated.
The jars or amphorae where the wine was stored were marked with the origin of the grapes, as a distinctive seal or signature. Sweet wines derived from figs, dates or pomegranates were also produced.