After a long, hard day hauling pyramid stones or wrapping up mummies, an Ancient Egyptian needed a decent meal. But what did the Egyptians eat, exactly? What were their staple crops, ingredients and livestock? How was food celebrated in Egyptian religion, and how different is Ancient Egyptian food from the food of modern Egypt? In this talk, we’ll discover the answers to these questions and more, as we explore the role of food in Ancient Egyptian culture, literature and art.
A presentation I gave a while back for Nerd Nite NYC about the food of the Ancient Egyptians (modified from one of my Brooklyn Brainery classes) has been posted to YouTube. Check it out below:
I know it’s been a while since I did an ancient food post on this blog. For the past few months, I’ve been focusing more on fiction and writing my second fantasy novel, an Ottoman steampunk odyssey tentatively entitled The Widow and the Jackal (my first novel, a Korean-inspired fairytale about gender roles called The Knife’s Daughter, was published in July 2018). But Pass the Flamingo flies still, and I have some more food history plans in store for the future. In the meantime, I’ve been documenting my latest cooking experiments, international grocery store visits, and other culinary adventures on Instagram (@passtheflamingo). Stay tuned for future updates (and for the boatload of Chinese food I’ll be making for Lunar New Year this weekend….)
Ancient food is great and all, but every now and then I get a craving for something a little more contemporary. Possibly my all-time favorite modern cuisine is Korean food. There’s something irresistible about it to me: the spiciness, the colors, the seemingly endless variety. I frequently make Korean food at home, and everything I know about it I learned from Youtuber and bestselling cookbook author Maangchi. I’ve been watching her videos for years and even got featured on her website once. Naturally, I was extremely excited when I got invited to be a part of her latest video project. A few weeks ago, Maangchi led me and four other fans (including a fellow Andrew) on a tour of the mega-size Korean grocery store Hannam in Fort Lee, NJ. The video below is the result, the first in a four-part series made in collaboration with the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.
We had a busy and information-packed day, getting to taste ingredients, ask questions, and sit down to lunch with Maangchi herself. In the video above you can see us tasting raw Asian sweet potato (my first time eating it raw). Someone compares it to chestnut, but my first thought was that it tasted just like the tiger-nuts I’ve used in Ancient Egyptian recipes, crunchy, starchy and lightly sweet. The comparison makes sense because tiger-nuts are actually a small tuber, not a nut.
Meeting Maangchi and getting to tell her about this blog was a really special experience for me, but perhaps my favorite moment of the day was seeing how excited she got over some jars of fresh, unfiltered fish sauce. “I never see this in the US!” she exclaimed. I smiled because it looked exactly how I imagine garum, the ubiquitous Ancient Roman fish sauce, ready to be strained and divided into its component grades of liquamen, muria, and allec. Perhaps there’s more correlation between my culinary interests than I realized….
Enjoy the video, and expect an ancient Korean recipe in the future!