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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

The kinds most highly regarded were the oxyrhynchus


Beef

and goose were more generally eaten than any other kind of animal food. The flesh of the cow was, though, never consumed on account of its supposedly sacred character.

The animals chiefly hunted were the gazelle, wild goat, auk, wild ox, stag, wild sheep, hare, porcupine and even the hyena. The wild boar is not represented on the monuments, but it probably thrived in ancient Egypt, for the country was admirably suited to its habits, as is proved by its tenancy there at the present date.

In lower Egypt, people were in the habit of drying and salting birds of various kinds, such as geese, teal, quail, duck, and some of smaller size.

Pigeons were also very plentiful and were much liked, and many of the wading tribe, as for instance the ardea, were so highly esteemed as to have been considered choice offerings for the gods.

The greatest favorite, however, was the Vulpanser, known to us as the "Egyptian goose," which, with some others of the same genus, was caught alive and tamed. They were also taken in a wild state to the poulterers' shops to be displayed for immediate sale, and when not so disposed of were then often salted and potted in earthenware jars.

According to Diodorus, the eggs of domestic birds were hatched by the use of artificial heat furnished by manure.

Of the

wild birds, the "sic sac," a small plover, was often mentioned.

The river of Egypt was noted for the excellent quality of its fish (eaten both fresh and salted or dried), many varieties of which seem to have been peculiar to it. "The Israelites remembered with regret the fish which they did eat in Egypt freely."

The kinds most highly regarded were the oxyrhynchus, lepidotus and lotus.

The oxyrhynchus is now believed to have been the _mormyrus_ or the "mizdeh" of the Arabs. It has a smooth skin and a long nose, pointed downwards. In some districts it was held sacred to Athor.

The lepidotus may have been the _salmo dentex_ or the binny (_Cyprinis lepidotus_). As its name implies, its body was covered with long scales. Its flesh was excellent.

The lotus, sacred in the region of Latopolis, is supposed by De Pauw to be the _perca nilotica_.

Other varieties much liked were: The oulti, to modern palates the best of all; the nefareh or Nile salmon, which occasionally attained the weight of one hundred pounds; the sagbosa, a kind of herring; a species of mullet, the shall, shilbeh byad, kilbel bahr, (the Nile dogfish) a species of carp, eels, and turtles of the soft-shelled variety.

[Illustration: Roasting a goose over a fire of peculiar construction.

(From a tomb at Thebes.)]

Eels were, though, considered unwholesome in summer (Ibid.).

Crocodiles were considered sacred in the neighborhood of Lake Moeris and of Thebes, but were eaten by the natives of the southern frontier.

The many restrictions imposed by religion and custom on the diet of the early Egyptians subjected them to much ridicule from the inhabitants of contemporary nations, especially from the Greeks. Anaxandrides taunted them in his verses.


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