Eating is one of the nobler of human activities. From emperors to beggars, the enjoyment of food has always been an integral part of our lives. Despite their limitations, our ancestors were able to find a way of turning even the most humble of foods into delicious and succulent stews.
Here are 10 interesting, ancient meals:
1 – Maccu
Maccu is an ancient Roman dish mainly made of mashed beans originating from the island of Sicily.
In terms of the preparation, the beans are boiled with herbs and spices. Later, olive oil is added to the mixture, and it is eaten as a soup. Leftovers could be drained, let harden and then eaten as a snack (sometimes it would be cut up and fried before being eaten again).
Interestingly, the beans can cause illness and even death in some people who lack the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. Those who do not possess this enzyme are unable to process the toxins that the beans contain, so their red blood cells are destroyed when ingested.
2 – Moretum
Moretum was a kind of cheese that Romans peasants smeared on any bread. The great poet Virgil, known for the famous epic the Aeneid, compiled a collection of poems called Appendix Vergiliana.
One of the poems talks about this dish, which is referred to as “Moretum”. In the poem, a peasant picked up ingredients from the earth (herbs, garlic, and butter) and then prepared the food, all the while talking and singing to the slave.
There was also a very popular variant where they added pine nuts, resulting in something quite similar to modern pesto.
3 – Shrikhand
This dessert prepared from fermented milk owes its name to the Sanskrit word used for the “milk” (ksheer) and the Persian word for “sweet” (qand), shrikhand. Despite the fact that its exact origin is unknown, the most widespread belief points that appeared on the old west India.
Today, shrikhand is served as a breakfast dish in north India. In the south, it has maintained its tradition as a dessert. In terms of the process of creation, the milk is heated, then allowed to cool to room temperature and finally fermented, which helps to create a curd. The curd obtained is filtered to remove the whey and then mixed with seasonings as desired.
4 – Tamales
The tamales have been cooked since at least 1500. C., although some evidence even suggests that it could be up to 10,000 years old.
The dish is of Mesoamerican origin, and its own name derives from the Nahuatl word used to refer to “wrapped food” (tamalii).
It is believed that the maya were preparing these delicacies of corn flour alone or stuffed with fish, beans or eggs. The tamales made by the Aztecs were quite similar, though these sweet fillings of fruit or honey.
5- ‘Black Soup’
The “black soup” (melas zomos) was a traditional soup or broth which was consumed by the soldiers of the army of Ancient Greece. The dish is made from blood, pork, and vinegar. What is certain is that this dish was and quite hated and was used basically to provide support during the war, although it is said that the Spartans even came to enjoy it.
Supposedly, an Italian who tasted it said that if the black soup was the only thing they had to eat, they already knew why the Spartans were so willing to give their lives in battle. Unfortunately, or maybe not, there is a specific recipe that has endured.
6 – Acquacotta
Acquacotta is another dish of humble origins from the western coast of Italy, more specifically from an area known as the Maremma.
Literally translated as “water cooked“, this dish is a relatively simple soup which farmers often prepared by boiling water with a few herbs and vegetables that they found and then they added bread to have something to chew on.
7 – Tharida
Tharida (also known as tharid) is an Arabic soup that dates back to the times of Mohammed. Created by a group known as the Ghassanids, this dish combines braised beef and breadcrumbs.
Although the Ghassanids are Muslims, they were Christians until their kingdom finally joined the Arabic conglomerate. However, the attractiveness of the Tharida transcended religious differences, and it became very popular among the followers of Allah.
Mohammed likened the dish with his favorite wife, Aisha, when he said that tharida exceeded the other dishes, like Aisha, exceeded all other women. It is one of the few traditional Arab foods that is spread all over the world. You can find variants from Morocco to China.
8 – Cheese Cantal
Cheese Cantal, also known as Fourme, is one of the oldest cheeses in the history of France.
The Roman author Pliny the Elder wrote about the cheese in the first-century ad. C. much To the chagrin of the Roman dairymen, Pliny said that the best cheese in the world came from Nimes, a city in the south of France.
Without experiencing large changes in its development through the centuries, the cheese Cantal reached relative popularity during the reign of Louis XIV of France.
9 – Papadzules
Papadzul is a traditional dish of the Yucatan Peninsula that resembles something like a pre-Columbian enchilada. Traditionally made by the mayans, the dish is composed of tortillas, preferably corn, on a sauce made of pumpkin seeds. The tortillas are stuffed with hard-boiled egg and bathed in a tomato sauce.
As for the name, the story is that it meant “food for the lords” and this dish was fed to the Spanish conquistadors. (Other sources say that the name is derived from the mayan words used to refer to “food” and “love”).
10 – Harissa
Harissa is a traditional dish in Armenia that should not be confused with the Tunisian sauce of the same name. It is a very popular dish during festivals and other religious days, with the appearance of a thick porridge made of wheat and chicken or lamb.
It is rumored that the name of the dish comes from Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of Armenia. On one occasion he was preparing a meal, and seeing that it was not going to be enough, it occurred to him to add a bit of wheat in the pot. When he noticed that it would work, shouted: “Harekh!” (“I shake!”).