Ancient Egyptian Diet

Most people in Ancient Egypt were farmers. The annual flooding of the river Nile meant there was rich and fertile soil to work with which made the land and the climate good for growing fruit and vegetables.

Food was never scarce in Egypt, even for peasants and slaves.

The most important crops grown were wheat and barley. Wheat was grown to make bread and barley to make beer as fresh water was scarce and water from the Nile was diseased.

The staple diet consisted of bread. This was eaten by all, whether rich or poor. Bread was often sweetened with dates, figs and honey.

A vast array of food was grown in Egypt including:

Vegetables
Radishes and Onions
Turnips and Leeks
Beans
Lettuce
Garlic

Fruit
Pomegranates
Grapes and Plums
Dates and Figs
Apricots
Melons

The reeds on the edge of the Nile were good hunting ground for birds, and Egyptians ate goose, duck, crane, heron and pigeon. Fish were also caught in the Nile and these were often salted and dried in the sun to preserve them.

Animals were kept on the farms to produce milk, cheese and eggs. Wild birds eggs were also caught.

The wealthy often ate meat, but this was not the case with the poor as meat was expensive, so the poor lived more on fish, vegetables and bread. They also ate fruit, but some fruit such as melons, apricots and pomegranates were only afforded by the wealthy.

Egyptians loved garlic and would flavour their meals with it. Food was mainly boiled, though it was also roasted, fried and baked.

Meat and vegetables were often cooked as a stew in clay pots using wooden utensils. Lentils were added to thicken the stew.

Egyptians ate with their fingers. The wealthy sat at tables and the poor ate sitting on the floor.

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