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8 Surprising Facts About Ancient Cuisine

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Food has been a part of culture since the beginning of time. Each country has their own special dishes that are synonymous with their way of life. Not surprisingly, some ancient cuisine has been passed down through several generations.

There are still ancient dishes that are still being served today. However, there is little doubt that our ancestors had very different tastes when it comes to food. Here are eight interesting facts about the unique cuisine that once nourished our forefathers.

1. Gladiators had a special diet

People usually think that gladiators consumed massive amounts of meat to help them grow strong for their fights. However, scientists have discovered that these ancient fighters were mostly vegetarian. Gladiators reportedly maintained a strict diet consists of barley and beans that provided strontium, which is essential in building strong bones. This would explain how they were able to heal quickly in time for their next fight.

Gladiators also had a special drink made of vinegar and plant ash that fortified the body and promoted bone healing.

2. Ancient Romans made their own MSG

Garum was one of the most popular condiments in ancient Rome. It is made by stuffing fish and salt in pots and leaving them out to dry. The result is a brown liquid that was usually added in Roman cuisine. Interestingly, the liquid was high in monosodium glutamate (MSG), which means ancient Roman dishes probably tasted a lot like Chinese food.

3. Doughnuts for the gods

Saying that the Hittites were big on sacrifices would be an understatement. They would offer everything that nature could provide to their gods for the sake of ritual magic. Although animal sacrifices were allegedly guaranteed to please their deities, they also had something that would appease any modern policeman: doughnuts.

The Hittites offered some of their own food to the gods. This included oily stews, pitchers of beer, and sweet pastries. The ninda gullant was a pastry that was reportedly ring-shaped, just like today’s doughnuts.

4. Egyptians and their love for onions

Ancient Egyptians were thrilled when onions started being imported from Central Asia. They were fascinated with how the vegetable never spoils and even added it to the mummification process. Egyptians loved onions so much that there was even a group that worshipped the bulb as a god.

5. Beer helped Sumerians gain knowledge

It is believed that the Sumerians were already brewing beer as early as 10,000 BC. However, their beer was made from barley bread and could have been as thick as porridge.

According to legend, the thick beer was responsible for the Sumerians gaining knowledge from Enki, the god of wisdom. The deity got so drunk that he gave the secrets of civilization to Inana, the patron goddess of Uruk. If it wasn’t for beer, we would probably be living in caves until now.

6. Ancient Indians ate beef

The Hindus are known for seeing cows as sacred and refusing to eat beef. However, their Vedic ancestors actually loved steak so much they even recommended beef consumption to pregnant women. Ancient Vedic texts even described proper slaughterhouse techniques in preparing beef to ensure that the meat would be tender.

7. The Aztecs believed chihuahua meat increased sexual potency

The modern chihuahua might be a shivering little ball of aggression because their ancestor’s puppies were a delicacy to the Aztecs. The tiny Mesoamerican dogs were usually eaten because the Aztecs believed the meat protected them from bad dreams and evil influences. In addition to that, puppy meat allegedly increased the sex drive.

8. Ancient Greeks shunned fava beans

Fava beans might be popular with the Ancient Romans but the Greeks simply refused to eat them. This is largely connected to the ancient philosopher Pythagoras prohibiting his people from fava bean consumption. Although it is unclear why Pythagoras hated the beans so much, Aristotle famously explained that it had something to do with flatulence.

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