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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

And made for it bottles and other utensils


priests lived solely on oxen, geese, wine, bread and a few vegetables. Mutton, pork and fish were expressly forbidden them. They were also warned to abstain from beans, peas, lentils, onions, garlic and leeks. On fast days they ate only bread and drank only water.

The people of the higher classes probably ate only two meals a day, as was the custom with the early Greeks and Romans. The breakfast was usually served at 10 or 11 a. m., and the dinner or supper in the evening.

In the early ages, before men had acquired the art of smelting ore, many of the culinary utensils of the Egyptians were either of stone or earthenware.

Knives were made of flint or stone, and were of two kinds, one broad and flat, the other narrow and pointed.

The skins of the goat and gazelle were fashioned into vessels for the carrying of water, and pans, dishes and vases for kitchen purposes were made of a red ware--sometimes of a light or yellow tint, sometimes of a brilliant and polished appearance.

The Egyptians were acquainted with the use of glass at least as early as the reign of Sesortasen II. (more than 3800 years ago), and made for it bottles and other utensils. Some of the former were made from two thicknesses of glass, enclosing between them bands of gold, alternating with a set of blue, green or other color.

justify;">As the Egyptians advanced in social culture, the wealthier classes gave more and more attention to the pleasures of the table. Banquets became more general and increasingly more elaborate. The sums of money spent on some of these entertainments were fabulous; they have never since been equalled in their costly, wasteful magnificence.

The preparation of a big dinner was in those days a weighty undertaking, for there were no big hotels to take the burden off the host's shoulders. Game had to be procured, professionals engaged, extra attendants hired, etc.

As all the meat used was freshly slaughtered, the kitchen and the butcher's department presented an active appearance for many hours previous to the feast.

In slaughtering, it was customary to take the ox or other animal into a courtyard near the house, tie its legs together and throw it to the ground, to be held in that position by one or more persons while the butcher prepared to cut its throat, as nearly as possible from one ear to the other, sometimes continuing the opening downwards along the neck, the blood being received in a vase or basin to be utilized later in cooking. The head was then taken off and the animal skinned, the operators beginning with the leg and neck. The first joint removed was the right foreleg or shoulder, the other parts following in succession according to convenience. One of their most remarkable joints, still seen in Egypt (although nowhere else) was cut from the leg and consisted of the flesh covering the tibia, whose two extremities projected slightly beyond it, as seen in the illustration.

[Illustration: The Tibia, a peculiar Egyptian joint.]

Servants carried the joints to the kitchen on wooden trays. There they were washed and prepared for the different processes of cooking. Then the various cooks were kept busy scouring the utensils, attending to the boiling, roasting, etc., pounding spice, making macaroni and performing all the other details of kitchen work.

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