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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

Would sometimes be roasted or baked whole


were not eaten when older than three years.

It is not necessary to give here the oft-repeated methods of Jewish butchery, as they have been of late so frequently described--and highly endorsed--by medical and scientific men.

Fresh fish (eaten generally broiled) appears to have been the principal article of diet in the environs of the Sea of Galilee. The Jews, however, were not well versed in the character of the different species. They roughly classed them as big, small, clean and unclean.

Salt fish also was imported into Jerusalem.

Locusts were considered to be but meagre fare, but they were eaten salted, dried and roasted with butter in a pan.

An ordinary kitchen was equipped with a range, a heavy caldron, a large fork or flesh hook, a wide, open metal vessel for heating water, etc., two or more earthenware pots and numerous dishes.

The kid, lamb or calf, killed on the advent of a holiday or in honor of a guest, would sometimes be roasted or baked whole, but it was usually cut up and boiled in a caldron filled with water or milk and set over a wood fire, the scum being taken off from time to time and salt and spices added.

The meat and broth were served up separately or together as desire might dictate.


principal meal was held in the early evening, although occasionally noon was chosen for a big banquet.

The early Hebrews seated themselves on the ground when partaking of a meal; but their descendants soon succumbed to the example of the Egyptians and adopted the reclining couch, which was universally used in the time of Christ.

The first reference we have to the change in custom is found in the book of Amos, where the prophet rebukes those who "lie upon beds of ivory." Ezekiel also inveighs against one who "sat on a stately bed with a table prepared before it."

Each couch seated from three to five persons, and the women usually dined with the men.

The meat and vegetables were sometimes served in one large dish, into which each in turn dipped his bread, but on other occasions portions were placed on individual plates.

Many events were made excuses for festivals.

The "mishteh" was a drinking party, which in the apostolic age was called a "komos" and was often the occasion of gross licentiousness.

The cups used were modelled after those made by the Egyptians. The "cup bearer" or butler held a very important position in a rich man's household.

During times of fasting or sorrow, all meats, wines, etc., were eschewed. They were called the "bread of desires."

Prison fare consisted of bread or pulse and water.

The vine or apples of Sodom, the "Dead Sea fruits that tempt the eye, but turn to ashes on the lips" of which Josephus wrote and Moore and Byron sang, are worthy of more than passing notice. They have caused a great deal of discussion among scientists and travelers who have differed in their opinions as to the identity of the fruit or plant mentioned.

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