Egyptian bread from the New Kingdom
(Vatican Museum, Rome)
The Egyptians made the wheat into bread and into soup and porridge, and they also fermented barley to make beer. In fact, some people think the real reason that the Egyptians first began growing grain was to make beer. This is an Egyptian model of beer jars, which the Egyptians made to put in your grave when you died so you would have beer in the next world.
The Egyptians also ate meat. You could go to a butcher shop and buy
lamb there, just as people do today. Only because it rarely
rains in Egypt, they could have the meat outside in the courtyard
of the store instead of inside. Here is a model of a butcher shop, also
from somebody's grave. Can you see the different cuts of meat all laid
out? At the very bottom there is a whole leg of mutton.
But, like other people from the Eastern Mediterranean like the Jews and the Phoenicians, the Egyptians would not eat pigs (bacon or ham or pork or salami) because they thought pigs carried leprosy. They ate beef and mutton and duck and goose.
For dessert, people in ancient Egypt liked to eat dates and figs. This is a picture of some real Egyptian dates which were put into somebody's grave for them to eat in the next world, and which were preserved in the dry climate for three thousand years until archaeologists dug them up again.
Archaeologists have also found seeds which show that the Egyptians grew watermelons, and other kinds of melon.
To find out more about ancient Egyptian food, check out these books on Amazon or in your local library:
Eyewitness: Ancient Egypt, by George Hart. For kids.
Food and Feasts in Ancient Egypt, by Richard Balkwill (1994). For kids.
Farming & Food (The Ancient Egyptians), by Jane Shuter (1998). For kids.
Egyptian Food and Drink, by Hillary Wilson (1995). Not for kids, but a more detailed account.
Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt, by Lionel Casson (revised edition 2001). Not especially for kids, but pretty entertaining reading, and Casson knows what he's talking about.
MARTIN L. KING JR.
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