“Good food warms the heart and feeds the soul.”
― A.D. Posey
A.D. Posey’s words are the simple truth that is universally acknowledged. Since time immemorial, people have been constantly fighting for food. No matter how evolved we become, the importance of good food can seldom be surpassed. After all, without food, we cannot live. Food is a piece of art. Good food deserves to be created with relish and eaten while savored. Eating healthy is a major aspect of a quality lifestyle.
Today, we have tons of variety of food. Supermarkets, department stores, eateries, and restaurants provide us with a delectable range of edibles to soothe our palates. From ready-to-eat instant food to items that take hours to prepare, chefs and food companies have come up with it all. In today’s world of consumerism, very few of us remain with a bland palate. After all, the tastes of the world are at our fingertips.
With so much variety at your disposal, have you ever thought about the food preferences of your ancestors? Have you ever wondered what the ancient people ate? Has it ever crossed your mind whether what you eat today was eaten by your forefathers?
Let us have a look at some of the oldest surviving food in the world that was discovered in the current century.
Location: Jordan’s Black Desert
Bread is one of the most common items of food found all over the world. No matter where you go, you will find bread. It is also one of the first types of food made by humans, having been around for over three thousand years. The oldest piece of bread discovered to date is around fourteen thousand years old. It was found in 2018 in a stone fireplace in Jordan’s Black Desert. Looking like a pita, the piece was made of oats, barley, and einkorns. It also had tubers, an aquatic plant, that made it gritty and salty.
Location: Aegean Sea
In 2004, an ancient shipwreck was discovered in the Aegean Sea off the coast of the Greek island of Chios. The ship dates back to 350 BC when the Roman Republic and Athenian Empire ruled the area. In 2006, the contents of the ship were recovered and analyzed subsequently. Astonishingly, the archaeologists found an amphora of olive oil mixed with oregano. Even today, this recipe is used by the Greeks as it is common knowledge that adding oregano and thyme to olive oil preserves it and adds flavor to it.
Who doesn’t like chocolates? The decadent taste of chocolate proves irresistible to even the most hard-hearted among us. In 1902, King Edward VII and his council knew the charm of chocolates. On the occasion of his coronation on June 26, a customized tin of chocolate, along with mugs, plates, and coins were distributed among all those who made it to St. Andrews for the auspicious occasion. Martha Grieg, a young schoolgirl, was one who received the tin of chocolates. What separated her from the multitude was the fact that she saved her tin of chocolates. Instead of giving in and eating them, she passed the tin to her descendants. In 2008, her granddaughter donated the century-old box of confectionaries to St. Andrews Preservation Trust.
Noodles are a fan-favorite among different generations even today. Asians and Europeans love noodles alike. There is a large variety of noodles available for us. While some may prefer a bowl of rice noodles, others might like a plate of wheat noodles. Have you ever wondered what the oldest variety of noodles is? Well, it is millet noodles. One of the first kinds of noodles documented in the entire world was a bowl of millet noodled discovered in China at the Lajia archaeological site by the Yellow River. A man, on the verge of enjoying his meal of noodles, was compelled to leave his food and run for his life when an earthquake and subsequent floods ravaged the area. His bowl of long noodles was subsequently sealed off. It was found beneath ten feet of sediment a millennia later.
It is believed that the practice of storing butter in wooden containers and burying them in bogs has been common since the 1st century AD. This was done for keeping them safe from thieves and invades as butter has always been a pricey commodity. Also, the low temperatures in bogs could be a factor in preserving butter in such a manner. More often than not, these containers of butter were forgotten. In 2009, such a forgotten barrel of butter was found in an Irish bog. Some peat workers were astounded to find 77 pounds of butter stored in an oak barrel while working. This barrel is believed to be over three thousand years old prepared by a community and stored in such a manner either to preserve it or hide it from thieves. Except for the white color, this batch of butter is beautifully preserved even to this day. Today, it is considered to be a national treasure and lies in the National Museum of Ireland.
Fruitcakes are nutty, fruity, and delicious. The confection is a staple for the holidays today. British explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, loved fruitcakes like most of us. He had abandoned a fruitcake in Antarctica during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1913. Scott died of starvation in his bid to be the first person to reach the South Pole in 1912 before he could eat his treasured cake. The fruitcake was found in 2017 by the Antarctic Heritage Trust in an almost edible condition in the Cape Adare hut where Scott used to stay.
We all have that elusive yet delicious recipe that has been passed down through the generations. These recipes have been tweaked by our ancestors as our food preferences kept changing. Naturally, it is virtually impossible for us to pinpoint what the people of yore had for their meals. Excavations and discoveries have made this task a teeny bit easy. Over the years, we have come across some astonishingly well-preserved food items in ancient expedition sites.
If you had to try one of these ancient food items, which one would it be? Do vote and let us know.
One thought on “Meal Time: The Oldest Food Items in the World”
I find it so strange that you mention chocolate as found in Scotland. Chocolate comes from my country, Mexico, and there’s plenty of evidence about that…