The diet of the ancient Egyptians depended on social position and wealth. Tomb paintings, medical treatises, and archaeology reveal a variety of foods. Peasants might eat a limited diet, including the staples of bread and beer, complemented by dates, vegetables, and pickled and salted fish, but the wealthy had a large range to choose from.
Barley, spelt, or emmer wheat provided the basic material for bread, which would be leavened by sour dough or yeast, and beer.
Grapes were grown for wine.
Fruit and Vegetables
Vegetables included onions, leeks, garlic, and lettuce. Legumes included lupines, chickpeas, broad beans, and lentils. Fruit included melon, fig, date, palm coconut, apple, and pomegranate. The carob was used medicinally and, perhaps, for food.
Animals and By-Products
Domesticated animals, oxen, sheep, goats, and swine, provided dairy products, meat, and by-products, with sacrificial-animal blood used for blood sausages, and beef and pork fat used for cooking. Geese, ducks, quail, pigeons, and pelicans were available as fowl. Eggs were eaten. Goose fat was also used for cooking.
Other Dietary Items
Oil was derived from ben-nuts. There were also sesame, linseed, and castor oils. Honey was available as a sweetener, and vinegar may have been known. Seasonings included salt, juniper, aniseed, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, and poppyseed.
- "Bread Making and Social Interactions at the Amarna Workmen's Village, Egypt," Delwen Samuel. World Archaeology, Vol. 31, No. 1, Food Technology in Its Social Context: Production, Processing and Storage (Jun., 1999), pp. 121-144.
- Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, by Jean Louis Flandrin, Massimo Montanari, Albert Sonnenfeld. 1999.
- Cooking, Cuisine, and Class: A Study in Comparative Sociology, by Jack Goody. 1982.
- Food: Bread, Beer, and All Good Things