The Delicious Legacy

Share

A Short History of Ancient Mesopotamian Food

Season 1, Ep. 15

...Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat,

It is (like) the onrush of the Tigris and the Euphrates.


A brilliant Assyrian hymn to the Goddess of the brewing process Ninkasi. Also a good set of instructions on how to make beer!

Aside from beer, there are many other inventions that Sumerians are credited with. But...

There is not enough time in my lifetime to write everything about Mesopotamian food!

From Sumerians, to Akkadians to Assyrians and Babylonians, we're talking about civilizations and empires that lasted roughly four thousand years! 

More time has elapsed from the first cuneiform clay tablet in 3200BCE -when writing was invented- till the last around 1st century AD, than from the last until today! 

As you understand it would be impossible to analyse everything for such a rich, diverse and vast region in both historical and cultural artefacts! 

So in the 40 minutes that the podcast lasts I hope I covered enough points that will introduce you to the first complex and sophisticated cuisine of mankind! (or at least the first we have some written records about!)

 A few years ago, an unexpected discovery has been made and one that shook things up a bit for us ancient food enthusiasts! From the dusty drawers of the brilliant Babylonian collection at Yale university, 3 cuneiform tablets were exhumed... these tables dating from around 1600BCE contain about 40 recipes, enough to gain some knowledge at last of the secrets of Mesopotamian cuisine!

Here's recipe 25 from the collection: 

Ingredients from the tablet: water, fat, roasted barley, mix of chopped shallots, rocket, and coriander, semolina, blood, mashed leeks and garlic. 1 c. whole barley, cleaned 2 c. water; 1 c. prepared stock; 2 tsps. of butter; 1 tsp. salt; ¼ tsp. asafoetida; 1 tsp. ground coriander; 3 shallots, peeled; 1 handful of baby rocket or watercress; 2 tsps. semolina; 2 tsps. blood (optional, if available); 1 leek, white and green parts, well cleaned; 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled.

“Preheat broiler to the highest setting. Spread the cleaned barley on a baking sheet to form a single layer of grain. Place barley under broiler flame and leave for a few minutes until it starts to smoke and colour. Stir lightly and turn pan if necessary until most barley is tan in colour. Be careful not to burn the grain. Properly roasted barley will taste nutty. When done, remove from flame and let cool. 

“Add water and prepared stock to a medium saucepan. You may season the stock any way you wish, or use the cooking stock from another recipe. (I used the stock from the hen recipe above.) Add butter, salt, asafoetida and ground coriander, and continue to heat. 

“In a food processor, pulse shallots and rocket once or twice. Then add the semolina and blood, and pulse one or two more times. Add this mixture to the heating, water and stir. When just short of a boil, add the barley and stir well. Bring back to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and cook over a medium-low flame until about three-quarters done—20 to 30 minutes. 

“As the barley is cooking, pulse leeks and garlic two to four times until minced but not mushy. Add this to the barley and stir once or twice—not too much or barley will be soggy. Partially re-cover saucepan and continue to cook, checking frequently. It should be done or nearly done within 10 minutes.


Enjoy!


As you usual, if you want to contribute and help me do this podcast you can support me on Patreon. I have 5 levels of sponsorship

and on the highest one you will have the pleasure of me cooking an ancient 3 course menu for you! So what are you waiting for? Subscribe! :-)

https://www.patreon.com/thedeliciouslegacy


Music by the amazing Pavlos Kapralos!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzgAonk4-uVhXXjKSF-Nz1A

More Episodes

6/2/2022

Humoral Theory and Dietetics from Ancient Greece to Medieval Europe

Season 2, Ep. 14
The ancients, -Greeks and Romans alike- where equally worried about health and food and the balance between a healthy diet and a delicious one.More than in our days, diet played a role in preventing andcuring diseases, and in fact it was one of the main areas of study at medieval medical schools.Medical writers and doctors and philosophers of the ancient world, from Hippocrates, to Galen and Oreibasius to Haly Abbas in Islamic Persia al obsessed and thought about the connection of diet and healthy body.The notion of humours and the idea that disease was related to some imbalance of them was only one of many theories in antiquity, some of which completely ignored them. For Galen the definitive theory was that articulated in the Hippocratic Nature Of Man. The nature of Man was made up of blood phlegm yellow bile and black bile, and it was through these that the body felt pain and maintained health. If their balance was disturbed the body experienced disease.To find out more, listen to the episode!The music on this episode was written and performed by the incredible Pavlos Kapralos. Find out more here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzgAonk4-uVhXXjKSF-Nz1AAnd don't forget to get your Greek delicacies from Maltby and Greek! You get a 15% discount with the code "delicious" online here: https://www.maltbyandgreek.com/As ever, please let me know your thoughts, on twitter or anywhere else you'll find me!Enjoy,Thom & The Delicious Legacy
5/11/2022

Part Two of the Medieval Arab Cuisine

Season 2, Ep. 13
Welcome to Part Two of our Interview!So much more to explore, with kitchen innovations, stews, pickles, and the most incredible cookbooks preserved for our eyes from Medieval Arab World.The Islamic Golden Age...What does it come to one's mind when hears the above words?Do you think of the 'Arabian Nights' ? Or as it is properly called as 'One Thousand and One Nights'?Is your imagination also filled with other Middle Eastern Folk tales of Aladdin and Ali Baba and Sinbad the Sailor?Or, maybe, the flourishing of scientific, cultural, economic activities in the near middle east and the centre of the worlds knowledge in the largest city then in the world, Baghdad?Well so you should; these are superbly important aspects of the medieval Arab world, but for me equally important was the flourishing of an extremely delicious, complex culinary tradition, a cuisine with one foot in the Arab peninsula and the other in ancient Persia! Mouth watering rich stews and elaborate banquets, feasts for kings and caliphs that lasted weeks on end...In other words, food! Food glorious food, food that we've never heard of, food and recipes that influenced the European medieval cuisine and to this day we find echoes of them in recipes across the known world,-without exaggeration- from India to South America!For this reason I have invited on today's episode Professor Daniel Newman; an academic from Durham University specialising in Arabic literature, to talk to us about the medieval Arab cuisine. He is also known for his blog "Eat like a Sultan" where he brings the medieval recipes to our modern world with some mouth watering creations, professor Newman shares with us his unique insight of a rich and wonderful world!This was such a fun interview and I thoroughly enjoyed our chat. He is such a passionate and knowledgeable man who loves sharing his wisdom with us! If I had such lecturers when I was at University doubtless my time there would have been much, much more worthwhile!Today's music Nihavend peşrev is kindly performed by Pavlos Kapralos and it's by Petros Peloponnesios a great cantor, composer and teacher of Byzantine and Ottoman music (born c. 1735 Tripolis– died in 1778 Constantinople) the music is influenced obviously by Persian motifs and the song is played with a santur which is a hammered dulcimer of Iranian or Mesopotamian origins.Prof Daniel Newman's blog, Eat Like A Sultan: http://eatlikeasultan.com/Thank you and enjoy!Thom & The Delicious Legacy