They had kitchens and prepared meals in them in ancient Egypt. They were outside, probably in a courtyard with a thatched flat roof. There might have been a primitive equivalent of a wood-burning stove, but more often than not an open fire was the only place for cooking alongside a clay oven. If you were sent back in time, you would see all kinds of activity from boiling and stewing to frying and grilling. Without a George Forman grill or a Cuisinart, it was all manual labor, lots of it. We still chop and dice like they did, but faster and more efficiently with our chef’s knives and electronic slicers.

They ground spices like cumin, dill, and coriander. They had mustard seed, cinnamon, marjoram, and rosemary. Some diehards still use something like a mortar and pestle to get “back to the land,” but our culinary gadgets can do the job in seconds. Flash back to the Pharaoh’s land, flash forward to today. A lot and a little have changed. Same spices, same type of cooking with salt and oil. I like the idea of sweetening things with honey and wine. We do that sometimes. I love garnishing with raisons, dates, and figs. I don’t know about root of chuba but am willing to try. They had fish and meat. No corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. That was New World. I imagine it was pretty tasty although plating food elegantly was not yet an acquired art. There’s lots more about it on the Wikipedia article about Egyptian Food, which I could probably study for days.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Food has become an obsession with so many these days, and the more exotic the better. It would be fun to recreate a meal from this ancient time and place. For now, I will settle for descriptions and speculation. We do know that kitchen vessels and utensils were found in tombs along with bowls, pots and pans. I think the food preparation took place on the ground, a major difference from today’s practices and one I hope will not make its way into modernity.

Give me my blender, mixer, bread maker, rotisserie any time. Some are hi-tech now with digital systems that give you such facility whatever you make. We don’t do much like the old, old, olden days but we do like to get our hands dirty in the kitchen. With so many different kitchen appliances these days, we have to rely on reviews of the best hand mixer to help us choose which one we should be using in our kitchens, rather than just using whatever tools that we would have been able to find in the environment around us if we lived in ancient Egypt. We may not knead the bread and grind the meat much anymore, but we get a simulation of these processes with our fancy equipment.

Where the wealthy ancient Egyptians had it over us was in tableware. Bronze, silver, and gold sure beats cracked china and paper plates (for those who prefer to keep their dishwasher pristine). They ate with the fingers, however, which is where I draw the line. I do like their idea of cleaning the hands in water bowls. The Egyptians seem to go quickly from the primitive to the sublime. While I am told they did not have the variety we enjoy today, their practices are more advanced than one might expect. For now, however, I will keep to my simple, healthy fare produced by the wonders of modern technology.