[Sca-cooks] OT: Rome and medieval Egypt

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 8 19:01:48 PDT 2011

Bear wrote much that was helpful.
> The general Egyptians likely made do with a diet of onions, beans and bread.

While this is much written, i suspect this is simplistic, and that there was a little more to their diet. Certainly people ate fish on occasion, and/or small birds. They had a few more vegetables than just onions and favas (and lupins on occasions). Radishes are mentioned in some texts, as are cucumbers, garlic, melons, cabbage, mallow leaves, colocasia (much discussed on this list). Dates were grown in Egypt and not just in palmeries so i imagine people ate dates, too. Figs, too, and sycamore fruit/"figs".

"An Ancient Egyptian Herbal" by Lise Manniche, published by the University of Texas Press (1989) has much information about plants, including food plants, not just leafy green herbs, in ancient Egypt.

Herodotus mentions some traditional Egyptian food plants. Among them is the lotus root from the Asian lotus, which he describes as looking like a wasp's comb and having edible seeds - and available around here, where i live, in Asian markets and the Berkeley Bowl.

For the Greek and Roman periods, Pliny discusses many Egyptian food plants.

> We know less about the Byzantine period.

Indeed in Europe... and probably even less about what they were eating in the provinces...

> During the Medieval period, the food was probably similar to that found in
> al-Baghdadi, although that is open to argument.

Indeed, later in SCA-period Arabic language cookbooks begin to express regional differences in recipes, noting where they originate, and i have no reason to think that some differences didn't exist centuries before.


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