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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

And then carried in vases to the chief pastry cook


The

head of the animal was usually given away in return for extra services, such as the holding of the guests' sticks, but it was occasionally eaten by the people of the higher classes, the assertion of Herodotus to the contrary notwithstanding.

Geese and other tame and wild fowl were served up entire, and fish also came to table deprived of only the tails and fins.

Vegetables were cooked in enormous quantities.

Bronze caldrons of various sizes were used for boiling. They were placed over the fire on metal stands or tripods or supported on stones. Some of the smaller vessels, used for stewing meats, were heated over pans of charcoal. They resembled almost exactly the _magoor_ of modern Egypt.

The mortars used for the pounding of spices were made of hard stone and the pestles of metal.

Most of the bowls, ewers, jugs, buckets, basins, vases and ladles used in the kitchen were made of bronze alloyed with tin and iron. The usual proportion of tin was 12 per cent. and iron 1 per cent., although occasionally the amount of tin was as high as 15 (Ibid.) and as low as 6 per cent.

[Illustration: Slaves boiling meat and stirring fire.]

Simpula, or ladles, were commonly made of bronze (often gilded), with the curved summit of the handle, which served to

suspend the ladle at the side of the tureen or other vessel, terminating in the likeness of a goose's head (a favorite Egyptian ornament).

Small strainers or collanders of bronze were also used, though for kitchen purposes they were made of strong papyrus stalks or rushes.

The spoons were of various forms and made from ivory, wood and divers metals. In some the handle ended in a hook, by which when required they were suspended on nails. The handles of others were made to represent men, women or animals. Many were ornamented with lotus flowers.

Skins were also used for holding wine and water.

The roasting was performed over fire burning in shallow pans. These were regulated by slaves, who raised them with pokers and blew them with bellows worked by the feet.

Though the Egyptians, except when impelled by the desire for extravagant display, partook sparingly of all but one or two meats, they were fond of a great variety of cakes and dainty confections. The more elaborate forms of pastry were mixed with fruits and spirits, and shaped to represent animals, birds and human beings.

The plainer rolls were generally mixed and shaped by hand and sprinkled with seeds before baking. At other times, though, they were prepared from a thinner mixture, first well kneaded in a large wooden bowl (the feet often being used for this purpose), and then carried in vases to the chief pastry cook, who formed it into a sort of macaroni upon a metal pan over the fire, stirring the mixture with a wooden spatula, whilst an assistant stood ready with two pointed sticks to remove it when sufficiently cooked.

Wine and water were placed in porous jars and fanned until cool. The water was purified by the use of paste of almonds (as it is, indeed, at the present day).

In the meantime, the reception room had been arranged for the guests. Chairs or stools were placed in rows or groups, extra carpets and mats strewn about, flowers put in and around vases and the house decorated in every other conceivable manner.


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