Being a Jew is a complicated thing. Even eating right is not easy. Such a simple thing as eating has been elected into higher levels, into morality.
Ancient Hebrew cuisine
We can make a statement concerning Jews and history: it is important for us! “Remember…” we can read so many times in our Holy Scripts. Roots, ancient history, our culture and of course our cooking is important. It tells us something about us, Jews. In this sense looking back to Biblical times is always full of nostalgia. Those were the glorious days! When God and his people walked hand by hand. Well not without some domestic dispute, but there were times we can call golden.
Part of history is the way we eat or used to eat. Looking back to those years (centuries) we can see that many of the food that were laid daily on the tables were symbols as well. Let us just name some
- wine were and are today used for blessings;
- bread were used even in the Temple (table of the breads);
- olive oil was used in offerings or in the Temple’s lamps and even the prophets used it for anointing kings;
- lamb as a symbol of sacrifice.
The people of Israel and the land itself are Mediterranean. Thus, our ancient cuisine is almost identical with those that were living around the sea. Food was based mainly on grains, legumes, wild plants and meat. Wheat and barley were important, so was onion, cucumber, melon or grape. Talking about the Middle East we must not forget the fig and the date.
Meat was mainly lamb or goat. Beef was a rare and expensive meal kept for festivals. Milk, butter and cheese also paid its part in the daily nutrition.
Even in those days spice was popular. They did not have access to such a wide range of supply, but herbs and other eastern spices were part of the common taste.