History can be viewed through many different lenses. Some believe that history is a long conversation about philosophy. Some believe it is focused on politics or wars between great characters featured throughout history. However, the Kitchen Survival Guide takes a bit of a different lens to the ancient civilizations: food. The history of food encompasses multiple aspects: philosophy, anthropology, sociology, politics, economics, resources, geography and a strong focus on culture. But food throughout history tended to rely on the more neglected populations throughout history: women, slaves, and indigenous populations - and still does in many parts of the world to this day.
The Nile River
Just as the Tigris and Euphrates rivers shaped the agricultural society of ancient Mesopotamia, the Nile shaped the world of the ancient Egyptians, who existed from 3,000 BCE to 300 BCE. The Nile is the longest river in the world, and it's a bit odd since it flows from the South, up to its Northern headwaters, which empty into a delta at the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile river is 6,650km long and provided ancient Egyptians with drinking water, water for irrigation of crops, and fish such as mullet, carp, sturgeon, catfish and Tilapia. Amidst otherwise arid climates between the Sahara and the Arabian desert on either side of the Nile, the river was considered "the giver of life." However, since there was no plumbing in ancient Egypt, the average lifespan of an ancient Egyptian human only averaged about 40 years old if they got lucky, and much of it could have been due to the fact that the Nile river was used as a toilet, a shower, irrigation water for crops, and for drinking water. Yuck. Not to mention, the Nile river was creature ridden with hungry crocodiles, aggressive hippopotamuses, and other harmful creatures that could lead to an uncertain death during your morning bath or a quick swim.
Since the Ancient Egyptian diet was not centred on meat, but rather cereal grains, these humans made extensive use of the river. There are many pieces of art and hieroglyphs depicting ancient Egyptians fishing with nets and spears and other equipment used for fishing.
Aside from the pharaohs, tombs, pyramids, statues and sculptures, the majority of ancient Egypt was comprised of Agrarian cities, built along the coast of the Nile river. Each spring, the Nile river underwent annual flooding. The ancient Egyptians called this season akhet, meaning inundation, which lasted from mid-June through to mid-October. This flooding would inundate the surrounding lands with 4 million tons of silt. This silt caused a build-up of semet, meaning black earth, which was brought down from the mountains by the flooding and into the valley. It was extremely fertile soil that was very rich in nutrients, allowing for grain cultivation. The season of peret, meaning "emergence," was the season for planting seeds. Essentially, the soil became so fertile that farmers only needed to scatter seeds and have animals walk over them to press them into the ground. The cultivation of grains occurred quickly during the season of shimu, just before the flooding would happen again.
Most agricultural societies following ancient Egypt had to rely on very complex forms of irrigation to water their crops however, the ancient Egyptians were able to use basin irrigation, where farmers would use the floodwaters from akhet to fill these large basins in the ground, that were attached to a series of canals that were used to irrigate crops. Since the Egyptians were able to use these systems to create large food stores, the farmers could focus on farming, and the slaves could focus their time and energy on building elaborate, impressive projects for royalty. When the farming season ended and the floods were about to happen again, the farmers were required by law to work on constructing buildings or other monuments for the pharaoh until the flooding ended. In the rations given to labourers who built the pyramids, they often received lentils.
Approximately 95% of the entire population still lives within 5% of the entire land the Egyptian Region has. Humans have always chosen to live in the most favourable conditions possible, especially within arid regions. If humans were living further away from the Nile, it would be impossible to form an agricultural society or get fresh water. This shaped the lives of ancient and modern Egyptians, by categorizing their world into two sections: the black earth called kemet, which was briefly mentioned. It was a result of the annual flooding and was a dark, rich soil that had plenty of nutrients, which made it an excellent soil for planting crops and farming along the Nile, especially near the delta. The Egyptians themselves also referred to the Egyptian region as Kemet. The red earth, however, was called deshret. Clearly, the etymology of our English word desert, which referred to the desert regions on each side of the Nile where crops couldn't be planted, and even animals could not survive. The Egyptians further categorized their land by upper areas, which were actually in the South, focusing on the direction the river flowed, rather than the directions of a compass - they hadn't quite figured out that technology yet. These "upper" areas arid and dry, whereas the "lower," or Northern areas closer to the delta of the Nile were lush and fertile. When Egypt was eventually ruled by the Romans and Ancient Greeks, the lower area in the North delta of the Nile river became akin to a breadbasket of the Mediterranean because it had excellent fertility for growing crops. People in the upper, arid area were considered to be more war-like and aggressive, probably because they didn't have a lot of resources and had to fight for them.
Farmers planted seeds from October to the end of February, scattering wheat and barley seeds by hand, followed by herds of goats being sent to the field to stomp the seeds into the soil to keep them safe from hungry birds prior to germination. Similar to the Mesopotamians, Egyptians employed irrigation techniques, but it was possible for the water to stagnate and attract mosquitos or other insects. Mice and rats would chew or burrow their way into silos containing farmers' grain stores, so cats were domesticated and worshiped in ancient Egypt since they kept the rodent population at bay, contributing to a successful harvest. If you've seen the new Netflix special that was released recently: Secrets of the Saqqara tomb, they discovered the first mummified lion. Egyptians loved animals and had very special relationships with them. So much so, that they were constantly depicted in art and some gods would have animalistic features. There was very much a culture of expressing gratitude and thanks to animals for their contribution as food or for protecting their food stores. The Greeks who travelled to Egypt in the later centuries remarked that these people had kinship relationships with their animals and that the animals were welcomed into their homes, which seemed odd to them. Egyptian hunters would use throwing sticks to hunt birds, which was akin to a boomerang that basically just never came back. It would hit the bird, kill it, and then the pet cats would fetch the birds. Depictions of Egyptian geese can also be found in ancient Egyptian artwork.
Egyptians relied on the preservation of foods in the hot, arid climate. They were also solely dependent on the Nile river, so anything that was not natively grown within this area was not a crop that was locally available. Egyptians relied heavily on the use of honey as a source of sugar. Honey has antibacterial properties and basically never spoils, so it was very often used for preservation. Grain was the centre of the ancient Egyptians diet, as it was for many ancient peoples, specifically barley, emmer and rice. Within this ancient civilization, the Egyptians did not eat nearly as much meat as modern Egyptians do, and were reliant on many vegetables such as onions, garlic, lentils, lotus, papyrus, tiger nut, okra and molokhia. The meat was reserved for royalty, wherein the Pharaohs were considered a connection to the Gods. Tiger nuts are actually not nuts at all, but a small tuber that grows underground. These were very popular in ancient Egypt as they could be ground into flour. Molokhia is a leafy green vegetable with a sliminess similar to okra, that is still eaten in Egypt today. The fruits that were available were anything that could be grown in a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern climate, such as dates, figs, grapes, melons, cucumbers, and carob. They also had watermelons, but their ancient version was much smaller and more bitter than the melons we know today. Egyptians did make wine, but not to the extent that they made beer. The wine was mostly only available for the wealthy, whereas beer was reserved for the farmers and slaves. The ancient Egyptians used a variety of spices such as coriander, nigella, sumac, asafetida, and sesame. They also had poultry and eggs, such as chicken, quail, pigeon, and waterfowl. There are records that the ancient Egyptians had somehow discovered at what temperature chicken eggs hatch, and had invented a pseudo-mass incubator with fires in the ground and a room on top which was at just the right temperature for the eggs to hatch. They were then able to hatch hundreds of chicken eggs at a time. Catfish from the river was also popular, but beef, sheep, goat, and small critters were typically reserved for the wealthy.
Since the Nile river was the "giver of life," the ancient Egyptians built their calendar entirely surrounding the river's cycles. The cycle of life, death, and rebirth was also connected to the waterway. For Egyptians to prove that they had not violated any of the laws associated with their acceptance into the afterlife, they would make a "negative confession," wherein their heart would be weighed against a feather on judgment day to determine if a person's heart was heavy with sin. Many of these laws had to do with food and farming, such as the mistreatment of cattle, negatively impacting the food stores of the temples, stealing bread from the deceased, stealing milk from children, or building a dam preventing the flow of water. Since pharaohs were seen as the bridge between humans, the gods and the afterlife, the Pharaoh was considered the ruler of the Nile and the giver of life. A pharaoh was also expected to act like the Nile river, by displaying abundance, fertility, and a state of calm. Since the ancient Egyptians equated the pharaoh to the Nile river, they expected that after death, the pharaoh would reappear. In order for a pharaoh to continue his ruling in the afterlife, he required an impressive tomb and his body. The first pyramid that was constructed as a tomb for a pharaoh was built in 3,500 BCE, and it is possible that mammoths still existed at this point in time. The pyramids were the tallest buildings in the world for approximately 3,800 years, and are the last remaining of the ancient seven wonders of the world. With their polished exterior layer of limestone, the pyramids could have probably been seen from space. A pharaoh's crook is a symbol that is seen quite often in ancient Egyptian art and is meant to depict the pharaoh as a shepherd of the people.
Egyptian Art and Hieroglyphs/Pyramids/Tombs/Mummies
The other way to determine what Ancient Egyptians ate was through the art depicted in their tombs. The time of Ancient Egyptian culture lasted for approximately 2,500 years. Since these humans truly appreciated and followed the status quo, most of their culture remained the same throughout those years. Since the Nile river flows through Egypt, the one thing that has still not changed nowadays is that Egyptians in ancient times and modernly, live along the Nile river. Many tombs also depict the eating customs of the ancient Egyptians. Art often depicts dancers and forms of music or other sorts of live entertainment during dining. The diners would sit on benches or on the floor and they did not have utensils to eat with, but they had very strict rules of etiquette at banquets, which was also depicted by their clothes and jewelry. In the early years of ancient Egypt, royalty dined on mats or cushions around low tables and the food was eaten without utensils. Later on, chairs and regular tables came into play. The servants of the royalty were required to bring the food and there was a separate room for cooking. However, the farmers and slaves were subjected to very different eating habits and diets than royalty. Priests were ordered to prepare three banquets each day, and each banquet would be overflowing with meats, wine, and cakes. There are many tombs that also depict Egyptians harvesting grains and cultivating crops.
Although ancient Egyptians might seem obsessed with death, they actually just loved and appreciated life, wanting it to continue in the afterlife. Egyptologists have gathered this through ancient writings. The Egyptians were a literate society with two forms of writing: hieroglyphs, which were used for sacred writing, and demotic script for writing contracts and agreements.
According to Andrew Coletti, author of Pass the Flamingo, since there are not many literary sources on Ancient Egyptian cuisine, however, most of these sources come from archaeologists who have found mummified or preserved food in tombs. Egyptians were said to have wanted to bring their most precious Earthly belongings with them to the afterlife, so their tombs would be filled with all of the best foods to please the Gods. All of the items found would have been the most luxurious foods possible at the time for an ancient Egyptian to eat. Archaeologists have also found tomb offerings such as mummified meat, dates, bread, and beer. By analyzing the remains of mummified Egyptians, it is also possible to tell what they may have eaten before they died, through the wear on their teeth, the evidence of possible underlying health conditions related to diets, such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity. And there is also proof that Ancient Egyptians were aware of diabetes, or what they called, "sugar sickness." To diagnose diabetes, the patient would urinate on the ground and they would wait to see if it would attract ants due to the excess sugar in the urine. Ancient Egyptian women had also invented a form of a pregnancy test, where they would moisten a sample of barley and emmer wheat with their urine every day. If the barley grew, it meant that the woman was pregnant and it was likely going to be a boy. If the emmer wheat grew, then the woman was pregnant with a girl. If neither grew, the woman wasn't pregnant. It has been verified by modern scientists that this practice was fairly effective. As a form of birth control, women were told to mix crocodile or elephant excrement with honey, dates, or other pleasant smelling substances to put in some uh, creative places. Man, honestly, I did not expect the ancient Egyptian culture to revolve so heavily on weird bodily fluids, but here we are.
So, to preserve the bodies of the dead so that a human's spirit could return to his home in the afterlife, ancient Egyptians would salt and dry human bodies. Excerebration was the process of removing the brain from the skull through the nose. In the 5th century BC, Greek writer Herodotus recorded, "Having agreed on a price, the bearers go away, and the workmen, left alone in their place, embalm the body. If they do this in a perfect way, they first draw out part of the brain through the nostrils with an iron hook, and inject certain drugs into the rest." It is believed that an object made of a plant similar to bamboo, about 7 inches long was used in this process to liquefy and remove the brain. A hole would be punched into the ethmoid bone near the nose, and the stick would be inserted into the hole. Some of the brains would be removed in whole chunks, while the rest would liquefy. The deceased would then be rolled onto his stomach to allow the rest of the liquid to drain from the nose. The embalmers would then slice open the torso to remove all of the internal organs and stuff it with strong spices like myrrh or cinnamon, then sew the body back up. Then for seventy days, the body was preserved in a mineral salt called natron. When the preservation process was done, the salt would be washed off the corpse and the embalmers would wrap it with bandages. This mummification process was typically performed by high priests.
Lice could have been considered one of the great plagues of Ancient Egypt, you know, along with the locusts and frogs and whatever mentioned in the bible. Lice were everywhere and it was not as simple as it is nowadays to get rid of them. Lice were such a massive issue that Egyptians would rid themselves of any and all body hair, men and women, and wear wigs as a replacement. Once the lice-infested the wigs, they could easily be thrown away and replaced with a new wig. Since they removed all of their body hair, they were considered "pure". To ensure that lice didn't infect the pharaoh during the mummification process, the high priests or "servants of the gods" were required to have been shaved bald. Because the priests were so involved in this process, they were well versed in human anatomy and were kind of considered doctors. They were able to set dislocated or broken bones and even performed brain surgery around 2,500 B.C. The priests would treat wounds using mouldy bread and honey, where the high sugar content would draw the moisture out of the cells, killing bacteria, and discovered by Dr. Alexander Fleming in 1928, penicillin is derived from mould. But we're a few millennia from getting to that one.
The Pharaohs actually tended to be more obese than their depictions in hieroglyphics found within their tombs or sculptures made of themselves. The mummies of these pharaohs were studied by scientists and often had clogged arteries, giant bellies and huge fat folds. The Egyptians were so well-versed with obesity, that they had produced medical texts on it as early as 1500 BC. Egyptian nobility would take castor oil laxatives three times per month, which did little to curb their obesity. The obese pharaohs were also required to partake in fertility rituals to ensure the fertility of the land and crops, by walking down to the banks of the Nile and uh, "bless" the river with their baby gravy.
Society and Slavery
Society was built into three classes: the nobility, a class of nepotism, royal families and a fair amount of incest, pharaohs with multiple wives and an abundance of children; then you had the farmers or working-class who owned farmlands or rented farmlands from royalty near the Nile river to survive and during the flooding season, when they could not farm, who would labour on the pyramids or tombs to pay their way in society; and then there were the slaves, who tended to royalty, fed, bathed, dressed the pharaohs, prepared their meals, fanned them on hot days and carried them around on sedans. Many slaves also dedicated their lives to building sculptures, statues, pyramids or tombs for the nobility.
In ancient societies, slavery tended to just be an instance of bad luck - being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the country or city you were living in lost a war, the people of that society were considered "property" of those who won the war. This is how the Jews became slaves to the ancient Egyptians. Since the Jews practiced monotheism or the belief in a singular god, the Egyptians looked down on their religion. The religion of ancient Egyptians and their gods were connected to the Nile river, making them polytheistic, where religion tends to be attached to sacred places or natural resources. As the story goes, if you've ever watched the beloved kids movie, The Prince of Egypt, Moses, a Jewish servant, approaches the Pharaoh, demanding that his people be freed. The pharaoh refused, so the Jews prayed to God for freedom, which was received by plagues that were intended to specifically target the Egyptians to save the Hebrews. Doesn't really mention the whole lice plague, but everyone in the movie is hairless already, so clearly, they needed more plagues. God made the Nile turn into blood so that the fish died and the water was unpotable. God infested the land with frogs that in turn, infested the ovens and kneading bowls. He sent infestations of gnats and flies. The livestock of the Egyptians began dying, but the animals of the Hebrews lived. Humans and animals became covered with sores. God made it hail so that all the vegetation would die. The locusts were then sent to eat any remaining crops and Egypt was made a land of darkness for three days without sun. But the final act of God was the Passover, where the angel of death was sent to kill the first-born son of every home if the Pharaoh did not concede and free the Hebrews. When the Jews finally gained their freedom, Moses led the people to Canaan, the "land of milk and honey," foods representing an abundant and fertile land, after parting the Red Sea. Very credible source on that one, referencing a kids movie, but I mean, there's also the Old Testament of the Bible too, I guess.
Anyway, to prevent their firstborn sons from being killed by the angel of death, the Jews slaughtered a one-year-old lamb and dipped an herb called hyssop in the blood, spreading the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, the lintel, the beams above the doors, as a sign to God that they were faithful Jews and their eldest son should not be taken by the angel of death. The angel of death would see the blood on the door frames and pass over the homes of the Jews, and instead, taking the first-born sons of the Egyptians and of their cattle too. Since the angel of death killed the son of the Pharaoh, he let the Jews go free. In a traditional Passover meal, to celebrate their freedom, the Jews would eat a mixture of chopped apples and nuts that represent the bricks that the Israelites were forced to make whilst building the pyramids, horseradish represents the bitterness of slavery, a hard-boiled egg dipped in saltwater represents the tears of the slaves, and unleavened bread of matzo, because the Jews were led out of Egypt so quickly, that there was no time to wait for the bread to leaven. The matzo is eaten for seven days. Easter is also a Christian holiday that is linked to Passover. However, historically, Moses and his people did not exist in the times of building the pyramids, as most of them were constructed during the "Old Kingdom," or the beginning of the era of Ancient Egypt.
Egyptians didn't have any coins or money until the influence of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, which we'll talk about in a future episode. So workers were compensated with bread, beer and sometimes onions. The wheat and produce grown by farmers was the currency used to barter for other food items at the market. Barley and emmer wheat were the essentials since they were used to make beer and bread and became the basis of the economy. The canals that were built to irrigate crops from the basins needed constant repairs, so a shaduf was invented to lift water from the source to use for irrigation. It was a long pole with a bucket on one end and a counterweight on the other. This way, farmers could easily gather water from the Nile or the basins to bring it back to the farm. When the crops were ready to be harvested, the wheat would be cut down with sickles and tied into bundles. Any remaining wheat stems were used as straw for livestock. The wheat bundles were then loaded into baskets carried via donkey to be transported to the local threshing area. This is where the grain was thrushed or separated from its husk, which was a technology discovered by the Ancient Mesopotamians that we talked about in the last episode. This was done by cows, donkeys, or goats, and they were guided over the grain on the ground to walk on it and separate it with their hooves. The wheat would then be separated from the shaft through a process called winnowing, where the wheat is thrown into the air, the heavier grain falls to the ground, and the chaff blows away in the wind. The wheat was then collected and turned into flour as needed. The flour would be ground with large heavy stones attached to wooden poles, that would grind over top of the wheat. Then it would be sifted. The rest of the wheat would be stored in those funky looking dome-shaped silos we mentioned earlier that were protected from rats and mice by the ever-sacred cats. Dogs were also useful on the farms for herding livestock. From a lot of mummies' teeth, it appears that the bread was very sandy since their teeth appear ground down. It also contained fragments of rock from the hooves of animals during threshing or the milling process of grinding down the flour with large stones.
Farmers' houses in ancient Egypt were often made of stone, clay, straw, and mud. Some houses contained an underground storeroom that was used to store food and could be accessed through a hatch in the floor. Wood was rare and very expensive as there were no forests to cut down in the middle of the desert, obviously. And since sanitation was not really understood back in those days, the bathroom was the Nile river or a pot outside of the house that was emptied into the Nile river. This obviously contributed to the worms and other parasites that these Egyptians were likely infested with, which would invade the bodies of individuals drinking the contaminated water. Having blood in the urine was seen as a sign of fertility, and it is very likely that many parasites from contaminated water would play host in the ancient Egyptians' bodies, producing blood in the urine… Lovely, more bodily fluids. Let's take another quick break.
Beer and Bread
In ancient Egypt, the word for life was also the same word for bread. By this standard, if the Nile was the "giver of life," it was also the giver of bread. Aptly named, considering the amount of grain cultivation that happened along the banks of the Nile. Food historians believe that the ancient Egyptians may have accidentally made the first instance of leavened bread, and… probably by accident. Since the bread-making process began by patting grain and water into a flat circle and placing it on a hot rock near the fire, it is possible that yeast made its way onto some dough that had been left lying around or that ale was accidentally combined with flour instead of water. Regardless, the Egyptians had discovered gluten and the bread was able to rise. Archaeologists have uncovered bread that was shaped in all different varieties, including pyramid-shaped, and commercial bakeries produced a minimum of forty varieties of pastries and bread. These commercial bakeries were crucial for the feasts the pharaohs held, which could include over 10,000 biscuits, 1,200 Asiatic loaves, hundreds of cuts of meat and offal, as well as geese, cooked ducks, sheep, fish, quails, pigeons, milk and cream, carob seeds, lettuce, thousands of grapes and oasis grapes, figs, honeycomb, cucumbers and leek bulbs. The Egyptians discovered that if you took a piece of fermented dough from the last bread that was made and it was included in the new batch, it ensured that the new batch of dough would rise. This was the first emergence of what we know as sourdough bread. Since beer was such an important part of ancient Egyptian culture, they had also discovered that to leaven bread, the head of beer could be taken off or the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, could be added to flour doughs. Pharaohs spent their days drinking wine, eating plenty of food and overseeing the economical, cultural and political life of Egypt. Royal banquets included goose, bull, and fresh fruits like figs and dates, and wine. And only royals were allowed to hunt big game like lions. Since all of the food for royalty was prepared by staff at the temples, hunting was a form of entertainment rather than necessity. Sometimes game masters would even pre-catch an animal for the pharaoh to kill. It was a chance to showcase strength and power. In the tomb of King Tut, there is actually a drawing depicting him coming back from an ostrich hunt. Tutankhamun was a teenage boy when he passed away and his tomb was found filled with snacks for the afterlife because Egyptians believed you still needed to eat in the afterlife, similar to the beliefs of ancient Mesopotamians and their funeraries like we talked about in the previous episode. Found in Tutankhamun's tomb were preserved bread, wine, pomegranates, green onions, garlic, pitted dates, ribs, poultry and beef that were pre-cooked, preserved and packed in a sarcophagus shaped and painted to resemble the food item.
Beer was a dietary staple. But Egyptian beer was thick and lumpy and was drunk with a straw. It had a low alcohol content and could be consumed throughout the day. It was also rationed to the labourers on the pyramids. It can be compared to modern "beers" that are made today in some African cultures.
Every meal would feature a grain product and all meals also included bread, so wheat was essential for survival. Multiple of those little silos were typically kept on a farm to store the grain. Most ancient Egyptians consumed approximately 3,780 calories per day - almost twice that of what modern humans are supposed to consume on average, per day. Which is now approximately the same amount of calories that the average American eats. But most Egyptians were slim, lean and athletic because they had a highly active lifestyle and a diet rich in variety, full of high quality and natural foods. Beer would be had at almost every meal. It was stored in large pots, but it spoiled quickly due to the heat. Hops weren't used during this era, so spices and dates were added to the drink to make it more palatable. Since it had such a low alcohol content in comparison to the beer we drink modernly, children would often drink beer as well. Due to the fecal contamination and other waterborne contaminants within the Nile, it was actually safer to drink beer than water. The way beer was processed would kill the microorganisms that could prove harmful to the body. Since it took a lot of time and effort to refine the grains and process the grain into flour, bread would be coarse and brown. And… sandy, as mentioned previously. But it was also eaten at every meal. I mean, trying to prepare food in the middle of the desert seems like it would be impossible for it to not be sandy. Sand would blow into food as it was being made and rock fragments from stone tools used to grind the grains would contaminate the bread as well. Aside from the contaminated bread, however, the rest of the vegetable selections were great: onions, lettuce, peas, dates, raisins, apples, etc. Ancient Egyptians actually only ate twice per day, as the farmers spent all day out working in the fields. So they were eating almost 2,000 calories at each meal, which is what we are supposed to consume in an entire day. If anything, beer would be sipped throughout the day to replenish the calories burnt working the fields. Fish or poultry could be hunted throughout the day and would be covered in a range of spices, and served for dinner alongside vegetables, beer and bread. This would follow by a dessert course of honey that was used to make sweetbreads and cakes, paired with some fruit.
Although ancient Egypt wasn't the first agrarian society, it was by far one of the longest-lasting ones and it has taught us a lot about food in ancient times. Without the preserved and mummified foods found in ancient tombs, we may have never learned as much as we have about their people, culture, health and politics. Food has been the one thing that links all humans, past and present throughout the entire course of history and is the basis of our current food cultures all around the world today.
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