Pantry Update

Let’s face it, some home cooks are good, a few are great, and some are just terrible. Do you think it was any different two thousand years ago? In my last blog, I listed grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables available to the first century cook. These were the staple foods that almost every cook prepared. The use of herbs, spices and condiments probably made the difference between a good cook and a great one.

Remember that meat was a very special occasion food. Goat, lamb and mutton were eaten most often. Wild game, such as deer, was served only when one of the males in the household had time to hunt. Beef was available only when the cow was unable to produce milk or was too old to pull a plow. Pork and pork sausage was loved and eaten by everyone but Jews!

Poultry and fish were eaten much more often than meat. Yet they were typically eaten only once a week. First century Jews primarily ate tilapia, a fish caught in the Sea of Galilee. But only those living close to the lake ate fresh fish. Dried and pickled fish were the norm for everyone else. A wide variety of salt water fish was available to many people living near the Mediterranean coast. Pigeons and doves were the most common poultry, though chicken was certainly known. Hens were probably too highly prized for their eggs to end up on the platter very often.

Join the Feast!

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5 Responses to “Pantry Update”

  1. Debby Swackhamer Says:

    Doug,
    So far, it doesn’t sound too bad! I wonder about quantity, or more importantly scarcity. We have Central Market and the internet–what did Jesus do when the crops failed? How likely was that to happen? How large would the portions be? How many was an “average” (is there such a thing?) meal prepared for? How much time was required to do all the pickling and putting up for off season? Did they have to worry about Winter? Where did they get salad greens? Did the average (that word again) have gardens? Did a household prepare the olives, I understand that it is quite complicated to get an olive from the tree to a form that can be eaten. Was that done in a home or a community? The logistics of the diet would seem to be a much bigger problem in 1 A.D. then the actual food.
    Keep the recipes coming, I think I will try your cheese, and you have already influenced Tom in that he now cooks lentil soup fairly regularly.
    Have fun,
    I am enjoying this immensely!
    Deb Swackhamer

  2. Sally Says:

    I am gradually seeing a transformation in our refrigerator…out with the 21st c. in with the 1st! Love the cheese, the bulgar and fava beans…and don’t worry, Robert and I will take care of the left over lasagna!

  3. judith bernstein Says:

    again, the jews would not have eaten sparrow, pigeon or turtle doves.

  4. David Huff Says:

    I have heard on some Roman Legion reenactment sites that Vietnamese nước mắm (fish sauce) is about as close to garum as we’re likely to find these days.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_sauce

  5. My Homepage Says:

    Having been merely looking at helpful blog articles with regard to the project research when My partner and i happened to stumble on yours. Thanks for this practical info! 103050

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