Friday, December 12, 2014

Bread and Beer:

The staples of the ancient Egypt

Just how staple?

The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer. -- 2200 BC inscription

[She] sent you to school when you were ready to be taught writing, and she waited for you daily at home with bread and beer. -- Instructions of Ani, regarding his mother

Most historical sources indicate workers received payments of bread, beer, grain, meat and cloth rations -- the necessities of life. Most frequently, these rations were actually expressed in units of bread and beer, which were most basic to the Egyptian diet. It is probable that the lowest wages were actually paid in bread and beer.

One might consider bread the staple of staples as it was often used to make bread. By the New Kingdom, there were names for at least 50 different kinds of bread. There were probably that many types of beer as well, although we might not recognize it as beer. It was not very intoxicating, nutritious, sweet, without bubbles, and thick, so it had to be strained with wooden syphons, used as a straw. See the following illustration.
Beer strainer
Although it's impossible to literally recreate the bread and beer recipes of Ancient Egypt, here are some educated guesses:

Baking bread from a hieroglyphic recipe

Recreating ancient Egyptian bread

Pharoah Ale: Brewing a replica of Ancient Egyptian Beer

Tutankhamun Ale Story