Jul 31, 2008

Fruit and vegetables (Ancient)

Fruit and vegetables
(by the ancient times )

Fruit and vegetables

Many Egyptians had a garden adjacent to their house, where they grew vegetables and fruit. Vegetables - the "crop of the year" - were grown all year round, irrigated by hand and formed an important part of their diet. May the king give an offering (to) Osiris, the great god, that he may grant an invocation offering of bread, beer, cattle, fowl, and every good and pure thing, every kind of vegetable... Vegetables
How basic vegetables were on the ordinary Egyptian's menu can be seen in this complaint of striking workers during the reign of Ramses III We are starving hungry. Our tongue wasted away in thirst. No cloth is left. We are lacking oil. We have no fish, not even vegetables. Onions, which celibate priests were forbidden to eat because of their aphrodisiacal effects, were a staple food. On the pyramid (of Cheops) it is declared in Egyptian writing how much was spent on radishes and onions and leeks for the workmen, and if I rightly remember that which the interpreter said in reading to me this inscription, a sum of one thousand six hundred talents of silver was spent;
Herodotus, Histories II, Project Gutenberg Garlic was highly valued. According to Pliny Garlic and onions are invoked by the Egyptians , when taking an oath, in the number of their deities. Ramses III ordered garlic to be distributed in large quantities in the temples. The Israelites who had become accustomed to the Egyptian diet of bread, fish and vegetables, complained when they were wandering in the desert [3] 5 We remember the fish , which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick. Leeks [6] are also mentioned in the Ebers papyrus and in the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor the narrator found all kinds of food on his deserted island: When I grew hungry and looked about for food, I found all ready for me within easy reach: figs and grapes, all manner of good herbs, berries and grain, melons of all kinds, fishes and birds for the taking.
Egyptian melon, faienceMiddle KingdomSource: Keimer Radishes, choriander, cabbages, endive [7], cucumbers, watermelons, melons [13] and raphanus, a wild radish tasting like turnip, were grown widely. According to Athenaeus the Egyptians ate boiled cabbage before all the rest of the food considering it one of the most delicate vegetables. The tubercular Arum colocasia, one of the plants loosely referred to as lotus, was also relished [5]. Mallow was added to soups [12]. The poor ate the roots of papyrus and other plants gathered in the marshes. The lotos mentioned by Herodotus is an import from India, Nelumbo speciosum, and not the traditionally depicted lotus. When the river has become full and the plains have been flooded, there grow in the water great numbers of lilies, which the Egyptians call lotos; these they cut with a sickle and dry in the sun, and then they pound that which grows in the middle of the lotos and which is like the head of a poppy, and they make of it loaves baked with fire. The root also of this lotos is edible and has a rather sweet taste: it is round in shape and about the size of an apple. There are other lilies too, in flower resembling roses, which also grow in the river, and from them the fruit is produced in a separate vessel springing from the root by the side of the plant itself, and very nearly resembles a wasp's comb: in this there grow edible seeds in great numbers of the size of an olive-stone, and they are eaten either fresh or dried. Besides this they pull up from the fens the papyrus which grows every year, and the upper parts of it they cut off and turn to other uses, but that which is left below for about a cubit in length they eat or sell: and those who desire to have the papyrus at its very best bake it in an oven heated red-hot, and then eat it.

Beans moreover the Egyptians do not at all sow in their land, and those which they grow they neither eat raw nor boil for food; nay the priests do not endure even to look upon them, thinking this to be an unclean kind of pulse. Herodotus, Histories IIProject Gutenberg Egyptian melon, faienceMiddle KingdomSource: Keimer Diodorus thought that the Egyptians were forbidden to eat beans and chick peas in order to teach them the value of abstention. But these foods were found as offerings in tombs. During the times of Ramses III the priests of Thebes and Memphis received donations of beans. Lupins, lentils and peas were also consumed. The lettuce was dedicated to the god Min, and was often protected by a little statue of the god. Its leaves were eaten whole, dipped in oil and salt, and were frequently part of votive offerings, having a reputation for being an aphrodisiac and enhancing fertility.


Since the middle of the third millennium BCE dates were grown, though they were not of high quality. The palmtree, imposing when fully grown, was also planted for shade there is a large city named Chemmis in the Theban district near Neapolis, and in this city there is a temple of Perseus the son of Danae which is of a square shape, and round it grow date-palms. Herodotus, Histories II, Project Gutenberg and its form influenced architecture for the tomb of Amasis also, though it is further from the sanctuary than that of Apries and his forefathers, yet this too is within the court of the temple, and it consists of a colonnade of stone of great size, with pillars carved to imitate date-palms, and otherwise sumptuously adorned
Apple (tpH–tepeh), olive (Dt–djet), and pomegranate (nhm–nehem) , trees were brought to Egypt during the reign of the Hyksos or later. Mulberry trees reached Egypt from Armenia or Persia before or during the New Kingdom. Pears, peaches, almonds and cherries were not introduced until the Roman period, but figs, grapes and the not always very tasty sycamore figs [4] which could be harvested from April to December, were known from early times [2]. Coconuts were an imported luxury fruit affordable only to the rich. May I walk every day unceasingly on the banks of my water, may my soul rest on the branches of the trees which I have planted, may I refresh myself in the shadow of my sycamore. Egyptian tomb inscription, ca. 1400 BCE Other fruit trees grown were the Dellach palm tree, mimusops, the shrublike jujube (Chinese date, Ziziphus jujuba ) and the drought resistant balanites which has datelike fruit and succulent leaves that are excellent feed for goats. Ramses III allotted the Amen-Re temple figs, grapes, dom-palm fruit, pomegranates. Other items are not as well specified: there are two instances of all (kinds of) fine fruit and of fruit and a number of fruit have not been identified: Mehiwet: cakes 3100Khitana-fruit: heket 310Khitana-fruit: bundles 6200 James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, § 240 Some of these fruit were only eaten fresh, but many were dried in order to preserve them. Jars of raisins were allotted by the thousands to the Nile god temple by Ramses III, as were dried dates. The Egyptian climate was not favorable to growing olives; and olive oil, known by the Semitic zayit meaning olive continued to be imported. The Arsinoite Nome (i.e. the Fayum) is the most remarkable of all, both on account of its scenery and its fertility and cultivation. For it alone is planted with large, perfect, and richly productive olive-trees, and the oil is good when carefully prepared; those who are neglectful may, indeed, obtain oil in abundance, but it has a bad smell. In the rest of Egypt the olive-tree is never seen, except in the gardens of Alexandria, where under favourable circumstances they yield olives, but no oil. Strabo, Geography

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