A History of Food in 100 Recipes

A History of Food in 100 Recipes
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A History of Food in 100 Recipes

Journalist William Sitwell's first book, A History of Food in 100 Recipes, tells the story of human's obsession with food, from ancient Egyptian bread to modern cuisine.

This painting, depicting bread making, comes from the resting place of Senet.

Image credit: Universal Images Group

Ancient Mosopotamia, which occupied the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was extremely fertile land and the people there ate an incredibly diverse diet. As Sitwell states, "a Mesopotamian's supper of bread, soup and cheese might be more sophisticated than our own."

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Sicilian poet Archestratus "tasted his way to paradise and then recorded it in classical Greek hexameters," writes Sitwell.

Here's a seafood recipe from his Hedypatheia:

You could not possibly spoil it even if you wanted to … Wrap it [the fish] in fig leaves with a little marjoram. No cheese, no nonsense! Just place it gently in fig leaves and tie them up with a string, then put it under hot ashes.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Roman Marcus Gavius Apicius, alleged author of De re coquinaria ("Of Culinary Matters"), was famous for spending his fortune on entertaining and lavish feasts.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Acccording to Sitwell, when Apicius ran out of money, he gave one last lavish feast and during the final dessert, Apicius poisoned himself and died.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As Sitwell told the Dallas Examiner, one of the great moments in food history was Hernan Cortes drinking chocolate with Montezuma.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cortes went on to introduce chocolate to Spain and the Western world.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For more on the history of food, read William Sitwell's A History of Food in 100 Recipes.


A painting on the wall of an Egyptian tomb near Luxor displays a 4,000 year-old recipe for baking bread.

Journalist William Sitwell's first book, A History of Food in 100 Recipes, tells the story of humans' obsession with food, from ancient Egyptian bread recipes and cheesecakes in ancient Greece all the way down to the cupcake trend.

According to NPR, the ancient Egyptians' inclusion of a recipe as part of the "riches they thought would follow them into the afterlife" signals just how important bread was to the daily life of Egyptians.

Sitwell reports that the painting above comes from the resting place of Senet, the only known tomb of a woman from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom period. Its decorated walls depict "images of hunting, plowing and sowing," as well as cooking and bread making.

A translation of the hieroglyphs follows:

Crush the grain with sticks in a wooden container. Pass the crushed grain through a sieve to remove the husks. Using a grindstone, crush the grain still finer until you have a heap of white flour. Mix the flour with enough water to form a soft dough. Knead the dough in large jars, either by hand or by treading on it gently. Tear of pieces of the kneaded dough and shape into rounds. Either cook directly on a bed of hot ashes or place in moulds and set on a copper griddle over the heath. Be attentive while cooking: once the bottom of the bread starts to brown, turn over and cook the other side.

Sounds pretty delicious to us!

Check out the slideshow above to find more fascinating tales from A History of Food in 100 Recipes.

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