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Title: Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients
Author: Martyn, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Compiled from standard historical works by


Published by
The Caterer Publishing Co.,
New York


"In the beginning"--The coming of the nations          3

Assyria and the other kingdoms of the "tawny men"      9

Egypt and the Egyptians                               13

The "vegetable kingdom" of Ancient Egypt              25

Greece before the age of luxury                       30

Rome in the days of her greatest prosperity           39

The ancient Jews                                      49

The Chinese                                           60


The influence exerted by different foods over the physical and mental
faculties of mankind is so marked as to verify the famous pun of the
philosophic Feuerbach, "Der Mensch ist was er isst" (Man is what he
eats). The advance of civilization has always been accompanied by an
increased knowledge of culinary matters, until cooking has become a
science and its various forms great in number. So in tracing back the
history of foods, culinary utensils and their uses, we of necessity
trace back the history of the world.

It is of course impossible at this late date to determine what was the
first food of primeval man; ignorant as we are of even the approximate
date of his first appearance and of the manner and means of that

But it is worthy of note that if he had not been endowed with an
intelligence superior to that of the other inhabitants of the globe, his
existence here would have been very brief. Nature provided him with a
body which, in those days, was well nigh useless. His prehensile organs,
his teeth, jaws, feet and nails, did not fit him for overcoming any of
nature. He could not tear his prey conveniently nor crack many nuts, nor
grub roots, nor graze. His digestive viscera were in the middle age too
bulky and heavy for the rapid movements of the carnivora; they were not
long enough to extract nourishment from raw vegetables. The only foods,
therefore, primarily obtainable by him which he could use to advantage
were fruits and soft-shelled nuts.

As man, however, advanced in knowledge, his skill in the art of cooking
rendered any or all objects used for nourishment by other mammalia fit
subjects of diet for himself. This may appear a sweeping assertion, but
the statements of reliable travelers prove its truth. The fact should be
carefully considered by those who advocate a diet exclusively of
vegetables, and by those few enthusiasts who preach that man was not
"intended" to be a cooking animal.

Whatever else may be clouded with doubt, it is certain that man was so
fashioned as to be compelled to eat in order to sustain life! In the
beginning, instinct must have taught him that the consumption of food
was the _sine qua non_ of his existence.

When was the beginning?

The Biblical chronology of events prior to the Deluge is not accepted by
scientists. The students of to-day believe, and seek to prove, that the
earth has existed for several million years, and has passed through many
different stages; that animal life was first evolved from the
"inanimate" state of matter; that man is the most highly finished
creature that has as yet been attained in the ascending scale of
evolution, and that he will, in the natural course of events, make place
for a still more nearly perfect being.

The exact date of the first appearance of man cannot now be ascertained.
Geological research has led to the assertion that he probably existed
thousands of years before the time usually assigned. But if we commence
our history from the last great glacial visitation we find that the
conceded date of its occurrence, about 5,000 years before the birth of
Christ, coincides rather closely with the date of the creation as given
in the book of Genesis. Assuming then that the neolithic, or stone age
followed not only the ice visitation, but the creation (to use a
familiar phrase), the theory of many scientists and the story of the
Bible agree on the one, to us, essential point--the birth of the first

Horace, in his third satire (first book), gives his views of the first
food of the human race. (At that time, six hundred years before the
Christian era, it was held that man was not created in a perfectly
developed form, but was engendered from beings of a different kind.) He
says: "When first these creatures crawled out of the ground, dumb and
foul brutes, they fought for nuts, first with nails and fists, then with
sticks, and later with weapons made of metal." This coincides with the
deduction made in the third paragraph, that nuts have a just claim to
the title of one of the "first foods."

These savages must have suffered from exposure to the occasional
inclemency of the weather. To protect themselves, they, being endowed
with an ever-increasing power of reason, resorted to the skins of wild
animals for covering. Failing to obtain a sufficient number from the
carcasses of those which had died a natural death, they conceived the
idea of destroying life in order to obtain the coveted article. They may
not at first have availed themselves of anything but the outer covering,
leaving the flesh to be eaten by other animals or birds, but the flesh
adhering to the hide would soon become offensive from decomposition, and
what is more probable than that their common sense soon directed them to
remove it directly after being stripped from the slaughtered animal? The
teeth of the primitive man were constantly in use for many purposes; so,
in tearing off the pieces of flesh with them, may the first appetite for
meat as food have been acquired.

It is difficult to determine when food was first subjected to the
influence of heat; it is still more useless to attempt to explain how
the properties of fire were first discovered. It is presumed that the
first fire witnessed by man, was caused by the fall of a meteorite, a
volcanic eruption or a lightning flash. The observation of its peculiar
effects excited the still dormant inventive spirit of the neolithic, and
he essayed the production of it himself. Evidence proves that he first
attained his end by striking pieces of flint against iron pyrites and
letting the sparks fall upon some combustible material, placed
accidentally or intentionally beneath. It is easy to imagine that it was
soon learned that fire would destroy human life and that the pleasing
odor of the burning flesh led to the use of cooked meat as food.

The cradle of the fathers of the human race was undoubtedly the
southern portion of Asia. They were nomadic in their habits and
satisfied their acquired cravings by hunting and fishing. The stone
floors of the caves in which they made their temporary abodes were
admirably suited to the building of their rude fires.

Ultimately these neolithics became owners of flocks and herds, usually
of sheep and goats, and moved about from place to place in search of
fresh pastures. Members of these flocks were slain from time to time as
convenience dictated. When for any reason food was scarce, their other
domestic animals, even their dogs, fell a prey to the insatiable
appetite for blood. The forests abounded with living things, now
generally classified under the title of "game," and these also
contributed materially to the food supply.

No fancy methods of preparing meats or game were then practiced.
Everything was either roasted or cooked by means of hot stones. The
roasting was in all probability accomplished by suspending the whole
carcass of the animal, denuded of the skin, over burning embers,
composed of the limbs of trees broken up into suitable lengths--as
indeed do the gypsies of Europe to the present day. The roasted meat was
at first separated from the body by the hand, later by sharpened sticks
or flint flakes, subsequently by flint knives. There is no evidence of
any metal being used for that purpose before the Deluge.

Though these first people are known to have partaken freely of the flesh
of animals and of the fruits of trees, both of the nut and pulp
varieties, there is nothing that leads one to believe that fish was used
as an article of food until after the Deluge.

Turning again to the Scriptures, many interesting things may be noted.
The first mention made of a flesh offering and of the ownership of
domestic animals is in Genesis, when Abel "gave of the firstlings of his
flocks and of the fat thereof," while Cain brought "of the fruits of the
ground." The earliest mention of cooked animal flesh is found in Genesis
8: 21, when Noah offered up "burnt offerings of every clean beast and
every clean fowl" after the Deluge. In the story of the creation, man is
enjoined to sustain life by vegetable food: "Every herb bearing seed,
which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the
fruit of a tree yielding seed" were given to him "for meat." Nothing was
said about the flesh of animals. But, after the Flood, "God blessed Noah
and his sons and said unto them: * * * Every moving thing that liveth
shall be meat for you, even as the green herbs have I given you all

So in many ways scientists and the Bible agree on the habits of the
neolithics. Both state that the primitive food of man consisted of nuts
and fruits; both mention the subsequent possession of flocks and herds,
and both refer to the knowledge obtained later of the effects of fire on
meat--with the one difference that the evolutionists seek to prove that
the meat so roasted was eaten, while the Biblical man prior to the
Deluge offered it untouched to his Maker.

Although it is now generally acknowledged that the Deluge was not
universal, it is undeniable that it marked an all-important epoch, for
from it may be said to date the recorded history of the present race of
men. From the posterity of Noah sprang up the principal nations which
have made the world what it is to-day.


If we accept the biblical chronology of the events which immediately
followed the Deluge, we find that Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and
Japheth, landed on Mt. Ararat and fixed their habitations in the plains
directly below. A formal division of the earth into three portions was
made by Noah about a hundred years later, when he was still in the prime
of life and when men were beginning to multiply sufficiently to form
colonies and settlements. One portion was assigned to each of his sons
with his posterity.

The three territories may be roughly classed as the northern, or the
region of the "ruddy men;" the central, the region of the "tawny men,"
and the southern, the region of the "blacks."

To the offspring of Japheth was allotted Garbia (the north)--Spain,
France, the countries of the Greeks, Sclavonians, Bulgarians
and Armenians. The offspring of Shem were given the central
region--Palestine, Syria, Assyria, Samaria, Babel or Babylonia, and
Hedjaz (Arabia). The sons of Ham received the southern division--Teman
(or Idumea), Africa, Nigritia, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Scindia and

Various causes scattered the posterities of the three brothers, and
nations were founded in many parts of the world.

Ultimately six great monarchies were established, Chaldea, Assyria,
Babylonia, Egypt, Media and Persia.


The territories ruled by Chaldea, Assyria and Babylonia were located
almost entirely on the vast plains of Mesopotamia. Although (or rather
because) these nations were continually at war with one another they may
be considered, for present purposes, as one country.

Babylonia was the first to be settled, with Nimrod, the mighty hunter,
as its monarch, about 2350 B. C.

Although Assyria advanced rather more in civilization than the other
two, the constant warfare waged and the varying degrees of supremacy and
subjection held by the three kingdoms necessarily resulted in much
intermingling of their inhabitants and a consequent similarity of
domestic manners and customs as they emerged from barbarism.

Agriculture soon became the most general industry. Wheat, barley, millet
and sesame were largely raised. Other varieties of pulse and grains were
plentiful also, as well as many excellent fruits, which have since been
transported to our own countries with remarkable success.

The different grains were ground to varying degrees of fineness between
two stones. The flour or meal was then moistened with water, kneaded in
a dish or bowl, and either rolled into thin cakes or pressed by the hand
into small balls or loaves.

The wheaten bread was generally preferred, but the poorer classes were
perforce content with the cakes of coarse millet or durrha flour, eaten
with milk, butter, oil or the fat of animals.

Dates formed an important article of diet amongst the people of Chaldea
and Babylonia, although they do not appear to have been very favorably
regarded by the Assyrians. Date groves flourished in many parts of the
land, and the fruit was dried and pressed into cakes. These with goats'
milk and such vegetables as gourds, melons and cucumbers helped nourish
the great mass of the population.

Other fruits, some of them found in great numbers, were pomegranates,
grapes, citrons, pineapples, oranges, pears, apples and many small

Bread, wine and a kind of honey were made from the fruit of the palm

King Sennacherib called Assyria "A land of corn and wine, a land of
bread and vineyards, a land of oil, olives and honey."

Nature seems indeed, to have blessed her first children with an
abundance of the good things of life!

It does not appear that the flesh of domestic animals was eaten to any
great extent, and the inference is that it was beyond the means of most
persons, for when warriors, upon an expedition, were able to obtain it
at the expense of others, they freely indulged their appetites. After
their victories they killed and cut up sheep and oxen, and roasted the
joints over the embers of a wood fire. Sometimes they boiled the joints
or the whole body in a huge pot or caldron, over a dead wood fire--on
which, also, pieces of the flesh were fried.

Amongst the upper classes mutton appears to have been the favorite meat.
Chickens were also considered a great delicacy.

As the races of those days, with the exception probably of a few people
closely confined in the cities, were great hunters, a plentiful supply
of game was usually obtainable--venison, antelopes' flesh, hares,
partridges, etc. The flesh of the wild boar was also eaten, but there is
no evidence to prove that the animal was domesticated with the intention
of using it for food.

According to Herodotus, some of the Babylonian tribes ate nothing but
fish, dried in the sun, pounded in a mortar until the fibres would pass
through a fine cloth, and then kneaded into a sort of bread and baked.
At first a prejudice against this species of food seems to have
existed, but later it was held in much esteem. The supply of both fresh
and salt water fish was practically unlimited.

Locusts were also eaten with great gusto.

The culinary arrangements and operations are not yet very clearly
defined by the chroniclers.

The fireplace, built presumably of well-burned bricks, was open at the
top, about two feet in height, and occasionally covering an area of many
square feet. Whether it was of square or cylindrical shape does not
appear. Over the top was set or suspended a large bronze caldron.

These caldrons were sometimes of great value. They were usually circular
in shape, flat or nearly flat at the bottom, without feet, and furnished
at the rim with ears or rings to receive an arched handle or a hooked
chain. Many belonging to the wealthier classes were embossed with
flowers and otherwise richly ornamented. They were commonly known as
"seething pots." They varied from eighteen inches to five feet in
height, and from two and a half to six feet in diameter.

Roasting was perhaps the most common mode of preparing meat, but it was
also broiled, slices being cut from the divided joints and transfixed
with wooden spits.

For delicate operations, a fire of coal was later on made in a portable
brazier. The oven then used was cylindrical in form, much deeper than
wide, and made of fire-burnt bricks or indurated clay.

In the houses of the wealthy, and the palaces of the monarchs, the
cooks, though usually slaves, were treated with much respect. They were
distinguished by the wearing of a cap (not unlike the tiara of the
reigning sovereign, except that it was devoid of jewels and unsurmounted
by an apex or peak), and they had numerous assistants to relieve them
from all the menial labor.

The cook's knife, closely resembling the modern two-bladed dagger, was
usually made of bronze, often thickly gilded, with a much ornamented
hilt carved from the hard black wood of the Syrian terebinth. Some,
however, were fashioned from bone, partly covered with metal and adorned
with pins and studs of gold. Others had handles of ivory carved to
represent the foreparts of bulls and other animals, and many were
embellished with precious stones. Quite a number were of copper, with
hollow handles.

Among the kitchen utensils was a jug with a long neck, an angular
handle, and a pointed bottom. It was usually suspended from a nail or

There was also a plentiful and varied supply of vases, large and small,
pitchers for holding water and other liquids, bowls, cups, pans, small
bottles, ladles, jars and funnels--some of pottery and others of bronze,
some of simple form and others elaborately patterned. The funnels were
generally shaped like the wine strainers of to-day.

Skins were often used for holding both wine and water.

The dining tables were supported by props with one or several feet, in
the houses of the rich made often of ivory and carved in the form of a
lion or a hero such as Atlas, and among the poor of stone.

The plates and dishes were of stone, alabaster or bronze. The dishes
were generally made with handles, either fixed or movable, by which they
could be carried or hung on pegs when not in use, and the red unglazed
basins bore inscriptions, in cursive character, running round the
interior in many lines to the bottom.

The cups, especially those used for wine, were very beautiful. The lower
part was often modeled in the form of a lion's head from which the cup
itself rose in a graceful outward curve. Many of them were of gold and

To Assyria is due the birth of the "culinary art" and its gradual growth
to a state closely bordering on perfection. It will be noted that it was
marked also by the manufacture of utensils and vessels far more costly
and elaborate than any in use at the present time.


The recorded history of ancient Egypt which was, according to Herodotus,
known as Thebes, commences with the reign of Menes, or Menas, who is
supposed to have been its first king. He ascended the throne about 2320
B. C.

The growth of civilization among the early Egyptians was much more rapid
than among the people of any contemporary nation. Even in the days of
Abraham and Joseph they had attained to as high a degree of social
culture as during the most glorious periods of their career. In art and
science their advancement was especially marked.

In her infancy, Egypt contented herself with the pursuits of
agriculture, the chase, and, as the habits of the people became more
settled, the rearing of cattle.

The domestic oxen were usually of the hump-backed variety. But not only
were the ordinary domestic animals tamed and reared, but also animals
such as gazelles and oryxes.

Sheep, though, do not appear to have been generally eaten; in some parts
it was, indeed, unlawful to devour them.

Goats were kept, presumably for their milk, and kids were occasionally
allowed to browse on the vines in order to impart to their flesh a more
delicate flavor.

Pigs were generally looked upon as unclean, and therefore unfit for
food. The chroniclers show them as used for food at only one festival.
Those represented on the monuments were ugly in the extreme, with long
legs and necks, rough hair, and a crest of bristles running down the

Beef and goose were more generally eaten than any other kind of animal
food. The flesh of the cow was, though, never consumed on account of its
supposedly sacred character.

The animals chiefly hunted were the gazelle, wild goat, auk, wild ox,
stag, wild sheep, hare, porcupine and even the hyena. The wild boar is
not represented on the monuments, but it probably thrived in ancient
Egypt, for the country was admirably suited to its habits, as is proved
by its tenancy there at the present date.

In lower Egypt, people were in the habit of drying and salting birds of
various kinds, such as geese, teal, quail, duck, and some of smaller

Pigeons were also very plentiful and were much liked, and many of the
wading tribe, as for instance the ardea, were so highly esteemed as to
have been considered choice offerings for the gods.

The greatest favorite, however, was the Vulpanser, known to us as the
"Egyptian goose," which, with some others of the same genus, was caught
alive and tamed. They were also taken in a wild state to the poulterers'
shops to be displayed for immediate sale, and when not so disposed of
were then often salted and potted in earthenware jars.

According to Diodorus, the eggs of domestic birds were hatched by the
use of artificial heat furnished by manure.

Of the wild birds, the "sic sac," a small plover, was often mentioned.

The river of Egypt was noted for the excellent quality of its fish
(eaten both fresh and salted or dried), many varieties of which seem to
have been peculiar to it. "The Israelites remembered with regret the
fish which they did eat in Egypt freely."

The kinds most highly regarded were the oxyrhynchus, lepidotus and

The oxyrhynchus is now believed to have been the _mormyrus_ or the
"mizdeh" of the Arabs. It has a smooth skin and a long nose, pointed
downwards. In some districts it was held sacred to Athor.

The lepidotus may have been the _salmo dentex_ or the binny (_Cyprinis
lepidotus_). As its name implies, its body was covered with long scales.
Its flesh was excellent.

The lotus, sacred in the region of Latopolis, is supposed by De Pauw to
be the _perca nilotica_.

Other varieties much liked were: The oulti, to modern palates the best
of all; the nefareh or Nile salmon, which occasionally attained the
weight of one hundred pounds; the sagbosa, a kind of herring; a species
of mullet, the shall, shilbeh byad, kilbel bahr, (the Nile dogfish) a
species of carp, eels, and turtles of the soft-shelled variety.

[Illustration: Roasting a goose over a fire of peculiar construction.

(From a tomb at Thebes.)]

Eels were, though, considered unwholesome in summer (Ibid.).

Crocodiles were considered sacred in the neighborhood of Lake Moeris and
of Thebes, but were eaten by the natives of the southern frontier.

The many restrictions imposed by religion and custom on the diet of the
early Egyptians subjected them to much ridicule from the inhabitants of
contemporary nations, especially from the Greeks. Anaxandrides taunted
them in his verses.

The priests lived solely on oxen, geese, wine, bread and a few
vegetables. Mutton, pork and fish were expressly forbidden them. They
were also warned to abstain from beans, peas, lentils, onions, garlic
and leeks. On fast days they ate only bread and drank only water.

The people of the higher classes probably ate only two meals a day, as
was the custom with the early Greeks and Romans. The breakfast was
usually served at 10 or 11 a. m., and the dinner or supper in the

In the early ages, before men had acquired the art of smelting ore, many
of the culinary utensils of the Egyptians were either of stone or

Knives were made of flint or stone, and were of two kinds, one broad and
flat, the other narrow and pointed.

The skins of the goat and gazelle were fashioned into vessels for the
carrying of water, and pans, dishes and vases for kitchen purposes were
made of a red ware--sometimes of a light or yellow tint, sometimes of a
brilliant and polished appearance.

The Egyptians were acquainted with the use of glass at least as early as
the reign of Sesortasen II. (more than 3800 years ago), and made for it
bottles and other utensils. Some of the former were made from two
thicknesses of glass, enclosing between them bands of gold, alternating
with a set of blue, green or other color.

As the Egyptians advanced in social culture, the wealthier classes gave
more and more attention to the pleasures of the table. Banquets became
more general and increasingly more elaborate. The sums of money spent on
some of these entertainments were fabulous; they have never since been
equalled in their costly, wasteful magnificence.

The preparation of a big dinner was in those days a weighty undertaking,
for there were no big hotels to take the burden off the host's
shoulders. Game had to be procured, professionals engaged, extra
attendants hired, etc.

As all the meat used was freshly slaughtered, the kitchen and the
butcher's department presented an active appearance for many hours
previous to the feast.

In slaughtering, it was customary to take the ox or other animal into a
courtyard near the house, tie its legs together and throw it to the
ground, to be held in that position by one or more persons while the
butcher prepared to cut its throat, as nearly as possible from one ear
to the other, sometimes continuing the opening downwards along the neck,
the blood being received in a vase or basin to be utilized later in
cooking. The head was then taken off and the animal skinned, the
operators beginning with the leg and neck. The first joint removed was
the right foreleg or shoulder, the other parts following in succession
according to convenience. One of their most remarkable joints, still
seen in Egypt (although nowhere else) was cut from the leg and consisted
of the flesh covering the tibia, whose two extremities projected
slightly beyond it, as seen in the illustration.

[Illustration: The Tibia, a peculiar Egyptian joint.]

Servants carried the joints to the kitchen on wooden trays. There they
were washed and prepared for the different processes of cooking. Then
the various cooks were kept busy scouring the utensils, attending to the
boiling, roasting, etc., pounding spice, making macaroni and performing
all the other details of kitchen work.

The head of the animal was usually given away in return for extra
services, such as the holding of the guests' sticks, but it was
occasionally eaten by the people of the higher classes, the assertion of
Herodotus to the contrary notwithstanding.

Geese and other tame and wild fowl were served up entire, and fish also
came to table deprived of only the tails and fins.

Vegetables were cooked in enormous quantities.

Bronze caldrons of various sizes were used for boiling. They were placed
over the fire on metal stands or tripods or supported on stones. Some of
the smaller vessels, used for stewing meats, were heated over pans of
charcoal. They resembled almost exactly the _magoor_ of modern Egypt.

The mortars used for the pounding of spices were made of hard stone and
the pestles of metal.

Most of the bowls, ewers, jugs, buckets, basins, vases and ladles used
in the kitchen were made of bronze alloyed with tin and iron. The usual
proportion of tin was 12 per cent. and iron 1 per cent., although
occasionally the amount of tin was as high as 15 (Ibid.) and as low as 6
per cent.

[Illustration: Slaves boiling meat and stirring fire.]

Simpula, or ladles, were commonly made of bronze (often gilded), with
the curved summit of the handle, which served to suspend the ladle at
the side of the tureen or other vessel, terminating in the likeness of a
goose's head (a favorite Egyptian ornament).

Small strainers or collanders of bronze were also used, though for
kitchen purposes they were made of strong papyrus stalks or rushes.

The spoons were of various forms and made from ivory, wood and divers
metals. In some the handle ended in a hook, by which when required they
were suspended on nails. The handles of others were made to represent
men, women or animals. Many were ornamented with lotus flowers.

Skins were also used for holding wine and water.

The roasting was performed over fire burning in shallow pans. These were
regulated by slaves, who raised them with pokers and blew them with
bellows worked by the feet.

Though the Egyptians, except when impelled by the desire for extravagant
display, partook sparingly of all but one or two meats, they were fond
of a great variety of cakes and dainty confections. The more elaborate
forms of pastry were mixed with fruits and spirits, and shaped to
represent animals, birds and human beings.

The plainer rolls were generally mixed and shaped by hand and sprinkled
with seeds before baking. At other times, though, they were prepared
from a thinner mixture, first well kneaded in a large wooden bowl (the
feet often being used for this purpose), and then carried in vases to
the chief pastry cook, who formed it into a sort of macaroni upon a
metal pan over the fire, stirring the mixture with a wooden spatula,
whilst an assistant stood ready with two pointed sticks to remove it
when sufficiently cooked.

Wine and water were placed in porous jars and fanned until cool. The
water was purified by the use of paste of almonds (as it is, indeed, at
the present day).

In the meantime, the reception room had been arranged for the guests.
Chairs or stools were placed in rows or groups, extra carpets and mats
strewn about, flowers put in and around vases and the house decorated in
every other conceivable manner.

When guests began to arrive, they were first received in the vestibule
by the attendants, who presented them with bouquets, placed garlands of
lotus upon their heads and sometimes collars of lotus around their
necks. To those who had come from a distance, they offered water and
rinsed their feet. They then anointed their heads with sweet-smelling
unguents and offered them wine and other beverages. During these
proceedings the visitors were generally seated on the mats.

[Illustration: A black and white slave waiting upon a lady.]

After having received these attentions, the ladies and gentlemen
intermingled and passed on to the main apartment, where the host and
hostess received them and begged them to take their seats on the chairs
and fauteuils which had been arranged for them. Here more refreshments
were handed around and more flowers offered, while the guests, generally
in couples, but sometimes in groups, conversed with one another. Music
was next commonly introduced, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The
performers in both acts were professionals and the dancing girls nearly
if not quite naked. Sometimes at the same party there would be two
bands, which we may suppose played alternately. Pet animals, such as
dogs, gazelles and monkeys, were also often present (Ibid.).

On some occasions the music, dancing and light refreshments constituted
the whole of the entertainment, but more generally the proceedings
described formed only the prelude to the more important part to follow.
The stone pictures show us round tables loaded with a great variety of
delicacies, such as joints of meat, geese, duck and waterfowl of
different kinds, cakes, pastry, fruits, etc., interspersed amongst the

These tables could be more accurately described as low stools supporting
round trays. The stool or pillar was often in the shape of a man,
usually a captive, who bore the slab on his head. The whole was made of
stone or some hard wood. It was not often covered with linen, but was
from time to time cleansed with a moist rag or cloth (Homer).

The dishes were probably handed round by the attendants and the guests
helped themselves with their hands, as knives and forks were then
unknown and the spoons that were manufactured do not seem to have been
used for eating. The guests took as much as they could hold in their
hands and, after eating, dipped them in water or wiped them in napkins
which, it will be observed, the waiters carried. Beer and wine were
supplied to quench the thirst.

As individual cups were not usually seen, the women were presented with
the desired beverage in silver vases, and the men with it in hand
goblets, which after being drained were returned to the attendant. Women
and men both imbibed freely and drunkenness was a universal and
fashionable habit of both sexes.

When the country was in the zenith of her power and magnificence, the
drinking goblets were of gold, silver, glass, porcelain, alabaster and
bronze. They varied also in form, some plain in appearance, others
beautifully engraved and studded with precious stones. Heads of animals
often adorned the handles, the eyes frequently composed of various
gems. Many were without handles, while others were so shaped as to more
properly come under the name of beakers and saucers. The beakers were
frequently made of alabaster with a round base, which prevented their
maintaining an upright position without additional support; and when
empty they were turned downwards upon their rims. The saucers, which
were of glazed pottery, were ornamented with lotus and fish carved or
molded on their concave surface.

Many of the vases have never yet been surpassed in daintiness of
ornamentation. The most remarkable were those fashioned from porcelain
which was made of a fine sand or grit, loosely fused and covered with a
thick silicious glaze of a blue, green, white, purple or yellow color.
The blue tints obtained have never been equalled in modern times.

Herodotus tells us that, after the heavier part of a banquet, it was the
custom to have a man carry round a coffin containing a wooden image in
exact imitation of a corpse. Showing this to each of the revelers, the
bearer would say: "Look upon this and then drink and enjoy yourself, for
when dead you will be like unto this." A rather weird observance, which
might be traced back to the death of Osiris.

If the phrases are correctly reported, we must suppose the figure,
brought in after the eating was ended and when the drinking began, was
for the purpose of stimulating the guests to still greater conviviality.
But if that were the case when Herodotus visited Egypt it must have been
originated with a very different intention. The Egyptians were too much
inclined to excesses in eating and drinking, both men and women
(Herodotus and Plutarch), and the priests probably endeavored to thus
check their too riotous mirth without personally interfering. Plutarch
said concerning it:

"The skeleton which the Egyptians appropriately introduce at their
banquets, exhorting the guests to remember that they shall soon be like
him, though he comes as an unwelcome and unseasonable boon companion,
is nevertheless in a certain degree seasonable, if he exhorts them not
to drink too deeply or indulge only in pleasures, but to cultivate
mutual friendship and affection and not to render life, which is short
in duration, long by evil deeds."

[Illustration: EGYPTIAN PARTY. (From a Tomb at Thebes.)

Host and hostess receiving presents. Dancing girls. Slaves waiting on
guests. Placing collars of lotus around their necks. Slaves preparing
bouquets. Scribe. Butchers cutting up ox. Carrying trays of meat. Man
clapping hands and singing. Guitar player. Harpist. Slave carrying head
and haunch. Stick custodian rewarded.]

After the skeleton, there was sung a doleful song in honor of Maneros,
whose identity is clouded by traditional disputes.

Next, music and songs of more mirthful character were resumed. Sometimes
jugglers, male and female, were hired for the occasion. They amused
their audience with ball tossing, turning somersaults, leaping and
wrestling. Occasionally, games, resembling our draughts or checkers,
served to amuse those present (Ibid.), but as a rule the fumes of wine
prevented any such quiet occupation, and the festival in many cases
ended with a most riotous carousal.

The foregoing is probably a true picture of a banquet in ancient
Egypt--except that, according to some writers, the diners were seated on
the floor and ate from very low stools or tables.

Yet, in spite of all, the moral code of the early Egyptians was purer
than that of contemporary nations. And commerce and war carried abroad
the advanced thoughts, great learning and luxurious tastes of these
ancient people, to be the foundations in after years of divers
civilizations, amongst them our own.


The vegetable kingdom of ancient Egypt may be roughly divided into four
great classes--trees and shrubs, esculent plants, grains and artificial

Of the first named, the most important food providing trees were the
doom and date palms, the sycamore, tamarisk and mokhayp or _myxa_.

The doom palm (_Cucifera Thebaica_) grows abundantly throughout all
upper Egypt. It is a very picturesque tree which, unlike its
date-bearing sister, spreads out into numerous limbs or branches,
reaching an elevation of about thirty feet. Its wood is more solid than
that of the date tree, and was found to be very serviceable for the
building of boats, etc.

The blossoms are of two kinds, male and female. The fruit, which is
developed from the female blossom, grows in large clusters, each fruit
attaining the size of a goose's egg, although the nut within the fibrous
external envelope is not much bigger than a large almond. The flavor of
the nut is peculiarly sweet, resembling our ginger bread. It was eaten
both in a ripe and unripe condition--in the latter it has about the
texture of cartilage; in the former it is harder, and has been compared
to the edible portion of the cocoanut.

The date palm is too well known to need any general description. Two
kinds, however, flourished--the wild and the cultivated. The wild
variety grew from seeds, and often bore an enormous quantity of fruit.
Sir G. Wilkinson is authority for the statement that a single bunch has
been known to contain between 6,000 and 7,000 dates, and as it is a
common thing for a tree to bear from five to twenty-two bunches, the
average total is often from 30,000 to 100,000 dates per tree. The fruit
is, though, small and of poor quality, and consequently it is not often

The cultivated variety was grown from off-shoots selected with care,
planted out at regular intervals and abundantly irrigated (Ibid.). It
began to bear in five or six years and continued productive for sixty or

Besides the amount of nourishing food furnished and the value of the
wood of the date palm, an exhilarating drink was made from its sap and
brandy or _lowbgeh_, date wine and vinegar from the fruit without much

The fruit of the sycamore (_Ficus sycamorus_) ripens in June. Although
it was much esteemed by the ancients, it has been denounced by moderns
as insipid.

The mokhayt (_Cardia myxa_) grows to the height of about thirty feet,
commencing to branch out at a distance of twelve feet from the ground,
with a diameter at the base of about three feet. Its fruit is of a pale
yellow color, inclosed in two skins. Its texture is viscous and its
taste not very agreeable. It was used extensively as a medicine, and was
also, according to Pliny, made into a fermented liquor ("Ex myxis in
Aegypto et vina fiunt").

Among other fruit trees and shrubs may be mentioned the fig,
pomegranate, vine, olive, peach, pear, plum, apple, carob or locust
(_Ceratonia siliqua_), persea, palma, christi or castor oil plant, nebk
(_Rhamnus Nabeca_), and the prickly pear or _shok_.

The persea (_Balanite Aegyptiaca_) is a bushy tree or shrub which under
favorable circumstances reaches an altitude of eighteen or twenty feet.
Its bark is of whitish color, its branches gracefully curved, its
foliage of an ashy gray hue. Its lower branches are supplied with long
thorns; on its upper branches grows the fruit, which resembles a small
date in general character. Its exterior consists of a pulpy substance
of subacid flavor; its stone is large for the size of the fruit, and
incloses a kernel of yellowish-white color and an oily, rather bitter
flavor. Both the exterior and the kernel were eaten.

The nebk or _sidr_ is another fruit of the date variety. It was eaten
raw, or the flesh, detached from the stone, was dried in the sun. It
enjoyed the reputation of being a sustaining as well as agreeable

The most common fig was that known to the Romans as "cottana," and by
the modern Arabs as "qottaya."

The olives grown were large and fleshy, but contained little oil.

Vines were undoubtedly much cultivated, in spite of the assertion of
Herodotus to the contrary. The bunches of grapes, when intended for
immediate consumption, were, after being gathered, placed in flat open
baskets. When intended for the wine press they were closely packed in
deep baskets or hampers, which were carried to the shed or storehouse on
men's heads or by means of shoulder yokes. The juice was extracted by
treading or squeezing in a bag.

The juice of the grape was sometimes drunk in its fresh condition
(Genesis), but fermentation was usually awaited, and the wine was then
stored away in vases or amphorae of elegant shape, closed with stoppers
and hermetically sealed with moist clay, pitch, gypsum or other similar

The best brands came from Anthylla (Athenaeus), Marestis (Pliny and
Strabo), and the tract about Lake Marea. Sebennytic, Thebaid and Coptos
also produced light, wholesome wines.

The esculent plants consisted of both wild and cultivated varieties.
Those most in demand were the byblus or papyrus, the Nymphaea lotus,
lotus coerulea and the Nymphaea nelumbo (called by Pliny "colocasia" and
also "cyamon").

The papyrus grew luxuriantly in ancient Egypt, especially in the marshy
districts of the Delta, although it is no longer found in the country.
The pith of the upper and middle portions of the tall, smooth,
triangular-shaped reed was used for paper, but that of the lower portion
and the root were regarded as an edible delicacy. According to
Herodotus, it was prepared for the table by being baked in a closed

The Nymphaea lotus, which resembles our white water lily, was also a
product of the lowlands. The seed vessels were collected and dried, to
be afterward crushed and made into cakes. The rest of the plant was also
eaten cooked or raw, and was said to be of a "pleasant sweet taste," but
nineteenth century palates declare it to be no better than a bad
truffle. The lotus coerulea was merely another variety of the same

The Nymphaea nelumbo, which is, by the way, no longer found in Africa,
was called by the Greeks and Romans the "Egyptian bean," and was
regarded by those races as emblematic of Egypt. It did not differ from
the ordinary lotus except in the large dimensions of the leaves and the
size and loveliness of its blossoms. The leaf of the flower varied from
one to one and a half feet in diameter. It had two rows of petals six
inches in length, of a crimson or rose-colored purple, and inside of
these was a dense fringe of stamens surrounding and protecting the
ovary. The fruit developed into a sweet, wholesome nut or almond,
divided into two lobes by a bitter green leaf or corculum (removed
before eating), with a shell shaped like the rose of a watering pot and
studded with seeds (about the size of small acorns and to the number of
twenty or thirty), which projected from the upper surface in a circle
about three inches in diameter. Both the nuts and roots were eaten by
the poorer classes.

Wheat and barley were grown in all the provinces in the valley of the
Nile, as were also, though to a lesser extent, rice, millet, pulse,
peas, beans, lentils, hommos (_Cicer arietinum_), gilban (_Lathyrus
sativus_), carthamus, lupins, bamia, jigl (_Raphanus sativus_--Linn.,
Herodot., Pliny), simsin, indigo, cassia, senna, colocynth, cummin (the
seeds of which were used for bread), durrha, coriander, cucurbitae,
onions, cucumbers, leeks, etc.

The onions were mild and of an excellent flavor. Nicerates quotes Homer
as authority for the statement that they were much relished when eaten
with wine.

According to Diodorus, children and even some grown persons lived at
that time solely on roots and esculent herbs, eating them both raw and

The bread or cake used in the homes of the wealthy was made from wheaten
flour; those one degree lower in the social scale made use of barley
meal, and the poorer classes ate bread of the durrha (Holcus sorghum)


It is impossible within these pages to tabulate with absolute
correctness any hard and fast menu as the diet of the ancient Greeks, as
it varied greatly according to the products of the several parts of the
diversified country over which they ruled, but one can by the process of
elimination arrive at fairly satisfactory generalities.

The principal food of the poorer classes was bread. It was not a very
appetizing kind, however, as it usually consisted of a simple dough of
barley meal moistened with water, or, occasionally, poor wine. It was
eaten without cooking or any further preparation. This was the universal
food of the Spartans.

The middle and wealthy classes partook, though, of baked wheaten bread,
which was called by Homer "the strength of life."

All other kinds of food, with the exception of sweet cakes, cheese and a
few vegetables and fruits, were at first considered (save by the
inhabitants of the cities) as luxuries--somewhat as even now amongst
old-fashioned people in Scotland, the term "kitchen" is applied to all
edible articles other than dry bread.

Of sweet cakes there were many kinds. They were flavored with various
seeds and sweetened with honey. Sugar, though, if known at all, was used
only for its medicinal properties.

Cheese was eaten mixed with wine or honey and salt.

Dried figs and grapes were much liked, especially by the Athenians, and
olives were even then pickled for a relish.

The vegetables that were formerly cultivated are not easily
distinguished by the names applied to them by different writers, but it
is certain that lettuce, cabbage, peas, beans, vetches, leeks, onions,
parsley and thyme were grown, as well as truffles and mushrooms.
Vegetables were eaten in the form of soup, served on hot dishes with
sauce or dressed as salad.

In the numerous towns large quantities of fish were sold. The salt water
were more generally preferred than the fresh water varieties, although
especial favor was bestowed on the eels that were obtained from Lake
Copais in Boeotia. There grew up early in history a heavy trade in fish
from the Black Sea and even from the coasts of Spain.

Although frequent mention is made of fish, cheese and vegetable markets,
a meat market seems to have been almost unknown. From this and also from
the fact that the word which designated butchers' meat also signified
"victim," it may be concluded that oxen were primarily slaughtered only
at sacrificial feasts.

The flesh of the hare was more highly esteemed than that of any other
kind of four-footed game. Of wild birds the thrush was most relished.

Pheasants and woodcock were plentiful, and quails were made to act as
combatants for the edification of the Grecian youth.

Domestic fowls and eggs were common.

Butter was seldom made, as it was considered unwholesome, olive oil (as
at the present time) being used in its place.

Although the Greeks were fond of water as a beverage, the difficulty of
obtaining it of good quality, combined with the tremendous production of
wine, made the latter the national drink. It was, however, seldom drank
in an undiluted condition, and the Northerners, who were in the habit of
drinking it neat, were denounced as unappreciative barbarians. But this
is not very strange, as the large amount of fir resin which is still
added to most Greek wines, makes them too strong and bitter for the
civilized palate to drink unless tempered by water.

The first juice extracted from the press before treading was set apart
as choice wine, the pressed grapes being then used for the making of the
commoner variety or vinegar.

The wine was often boiled and mixed with salt for exportation, and
aromatic herbs and berries were added to impart different flavors. It
was then placed in earthenware jars sealed with pitch.

The various kinds may be roughly classed by colors. The black was the
strongest and sweetest; the white was the weakest, and that of golden
color was dry and very fine in flavor.

The wines grown in the districts of Lesbos, Chios, Sikyon, and Phlios
were the most esteemed. Age was considered when estimating the value of
wine, but the preference for any special year of vintage seems to have
been unknown.

Even in those early days epicures whenever possible cooled their jars
with snow before pouring out the wine.

Cow's milk was not liked, but the first milk of goats and sheep was
often drank, although more generally used for the manufacture of cheese.

The morning meal seldom consisted of more than bread dipped in wine and
water, resembling closely the morning coffee of the Continent. The
principal meal of the very early Grecians, as in the case of nearly all
young nations, was served about noon, but as civilization advanced, the
hour grew later, until 5 o'clock became most popular, a light luncheon
then being served in the middle of the day.

Although Homer represents his chiefs as being always ready to sit down
and gorge themselves with meat, the Grecian gentleman was not a disciple
of "high living" or indolence. He desired and appreciated the charm of
sober conversation and intellectual stimulus. Homer recognized this when
he said, "Nor did the mind of any stand in want of an equal feast."

The social instincts and the warmth of feeling amongst the Hellenic race
made dinners and festival events of every day occurrence, and caused
them to fill a prominent part in the lives of all, but the diet of the
Homeric age was wonderfully simple (in those early days the most
elaborate dinners consisted of only two courses--the first of meat,
usually roasted sheep, oxen or pigs, and vegetables; the second of
cakes, sweetened with the honey of Hymettus, and dried and fresh
fruits), for appetites were held subordinate to the love of music and
the dance.

               "* * * Nor can I deem
     Aught more delightful than the general joy
     Of a whole people, when the assembled guests,
     Seated in order in the royal hall,
     Are listening to the minstrel, while the board
     Is spread with bread and meats, and from the jars
     The cup-bearer draws wine and fills the cups.
     To me there is no more delightful sight."


Invitations were generally given a few days in advance by the host in
person in the market or any other place of common sojourn.

Unlike the Egyptians, the Grecians made their toilets and anointed
themselves before arriving at their host's house.

But before eating,

                 "* * * In a bowl
     Of silver, from a shapely ewer of gold,
     A maid poured water o'er the hands and set
     A polished table near them."

Then, if any had traveled from a distance, their feet were bathed in
perfumed water and wine.

Meanwhile the male attendants were not idle--

             "* * * Some in the bowls
     Tempered the wine with water, some cleansed
     The table with light sponges and set
     The banquet forth and carved the meats for all."

A separate table was in those days usually provided for each guest,
though the rule was not strictly observed.

In some cases, diners-out were accompanied and attended by their own
servants. In a few districts in modern Greece this is still habitual.

Chairs and stools were generally used as seats, the custom of reclining
on couches not being introduced until a later date.

As napkins were then unknown, the guests wiped their fingers on towels
and in pieces of specially prepared dough, which were thrown under the
table after being used.

There were spoons (of metal, often of gold--Athenaeus), but hollow
pieces of bread were generally used in their stead.

The carver presided at a table and cut the meats into small pieces, as
individual forks and knives were then unknown. The portions were usually
of uniform size, although any very honored person was presented with
larger or choicer morsels.

The diluted wine was then transferred by ladles to the drinking cups or
beakers, to be distributed by boy servants. The first cup was handed
from one to another of the guests untouched as a sort of salutation.

It was not customary to drink before the meal had been served.

Bread was handed round in little baskets woven from slips of ivory.

Moderation was universally observed. It was deemed gluttonous to linger
long over a repast, and contemptible to imbibe too freely of wine.

           "* * * When the calls of thirst
     And hunger were appeased, the diners thought
     Of other things that well become a feast.
     Song and the dance."

But here again all ribaldry was debarred. Tender hymns and rhapsodies
were sung to the accompaniment of the harp by trained singers, who were
seated at special tables on silver-mounted thrones.

Games of various kinds usually followed, and with conversation filled
out the time until the gathering dispersed.

House picnics were much in vogue:

                       "* * * * Meantime came
     Those who prepared the banquets to the halls
     Of the great monarch. Bringing sheep
     And strengthening wine they came. Their wives, who on their brows
     Wore snowy fillets, brought the bread, and thus
     Within the halls of Menelaus all
     Was bustle setting forth the evening meal."

Among the dining room utensils should be mentioned the various baskets
of copper, silver, gold and ivory wire; vessels for mixing wine, usually
of silver, but sometimes of the more precious metal, and cups of
elaborate design and costly workmanship.

[Illustration: Drinking vessels: Bowls, beakers and rhyta.]

The cups were of various shapes and sizes. The "depas" had two handles
and was made of wood, thickly covered with gold studs. Another, the
"kypellon," was broad and shallow, made of various metals, usually gold.
The "phiate" was very similar in appearance to the kypellon. The
"kotyle" was so small as to merely hold "a scanty draught, which only
wet the lips, but not the palate."

The "sykphos" and "kissybion" were simple wooden cups in use amongst the
peasantry. They were usually made of the wood of the cypress.

Skilled cooks were seldom regularly employed on the domestic staff. They
usually congregated in the market places and when any particular
occasion necessitated their services they were hired by the day. As also
nowadays they generally represented several nations, and they gained in
social importance as the love of luxury gradually overcame the custom of
simple fare.

The regular staff of household servants, slaves in fact, were under the
management of a general steward, himself a slave, who attended
personally to the buying and superintended the details of all the other

[Illustration: Wine jugs or oinochoai.]

But besides these private dinners, occasion often brought about banquets
on a much larger scale, sometimes in honor of religion or of death.

         "* * * There upon the ocean's side
     They found the people offering coal black steers
     To dark haired Neptune. On nine seats they sat,
     Five hundred on each seat; nine steers were slain
     For each five hundred there."

There was also a great difference between the foods of the ordinary
people and that of the heroes described in the classics. According to
Homer, who was probably guilty of exaggeration, the athletes consumed
enormous quantities of various meats (roasted or broiled, by the
way--never boiled), which comprised their entire diet with the exception
of wine and bread. Beef, mutton, venison, and especially pork, were

     "He spake and girt his tunic round his loins
     And hastened to the sties in which the herds
     Of swine were lying. Thence he took out two
     And slaughtered them and scraped them, sliced the flesh
     And fried it upon spits and when the whole
     Was roasted, brought and placed it reeking hot,
     Still in the spits and sprinkled with white meal."

Fish and cheese were only considered worthy of the athletic when animal
flesh was scarce. Nor were these giants possessed of very fastidious

               "* * * * At the fire
     Already lie the paunches of two goats
     Preparing for our evening meal, and both
     Are filled with fat and blood."

         "* * * * As one turns and turns
     The stomach of a bullock filled with fat
     And blood before a fiercely blazing fire
     And wishes it were done * * * *."

The hospitality of the early Grecians was unbounded. The high moral and
social standard of the masses of the people rendered it possible to
extend greater courtesy towards strangers than would have been deemed
prudent in later days. Every stranger or traveller who knocked at the
door of a residence was sure of a welcome. No questions were asked him
until he had been generously entertained in every feasible manner, for
he stood under the protection of Zeus Xenios, guardian of the guest.

This lavish friendliness was probably caused by, or was perhaps itself
the cause of, the scarcity of hostelries of reputable character. A
spirit of compassion also existed, as it was then considered an ill
fortune that made one journey far from home.

As the centuries of increasing wealth and power relaxed the rigidity of
the morals of these ancient inhabitants of Greece, the love of luxury
gradually supplanted the absorbing desire for intellectual enjoyment
which had at first raised them so far above the people of the
neighboring territories. Gluttonous devotion to the table, in
conjunction with numerous vices, undermined the physical as well as the
moral constitution, and the country which had astounded the ages with
the valor of its sons, which had proved invulnerable to numerous martial
forces, succumbed to the influence of sensual tastes and passions,
suggested by the idleness of worldly success. And as their worship of
their palates grew, the trained cook obtained an even greater influence
until his position became one of extreme importance, and was so recorded
by the poets and dramatists of the time.

Little difference, in fact, was there between the habits of the latter
day Greeks and the Romans in the days of their great wealth, for Grecian
luxuries and Grecian habits were the models that Rome took as its
models, so we will pass on to the next chapter, inferentially describing
the former while depicting the latter.


The food of the early Romans resembled to a great extent that of the
Greek heroes (their national dish was pulmentarium, a porridge made of
pulse), but to avoid repetitions we will pass over the first centuries
of Roman history, choosing as our subject Rome in the days of

It should, however, be mentioned that Greece never attained such
enormous wealth as Rome, and that even in her greatest recklessness she
was more refined. Goethe said that in the days of their highest
civilization the Romans remained parvenus; that they did not know how to
live, that they wasted their riches in tasteless extravagance and vulgar
ostentation--but it must be remembered that, whereas the civilization of
the nineteenth century is industrial, that of Rome was militant, and to
that should be attributed the fact that some of the simplest means of
comfort were then unknown.

Many moderns are inclined to doubt the assertions made concerning the
countless riches and marvellous expenditures of those days. They read
with skepticism the writings of Juvenal, Seneca and the elder Pliny.
But, though in some cases exaggeration was doubtless resorted to,
sufficient proof remains to convince the observing mind that the wealth
of the Roman far surpassed the wildest dreams of the richest man of the
present day. The ruins of the Colosseum and of the baths of Caracalla,
two structures raised solely for pleasure, impress us with their
stupendous magnificence, and even the twentieth century has failed to
equal the palaces of the nobles.

Moreover, it must be remembered that the wealthy Roman owned many
mansions. Each of the larger ones was a miniature city, sheltering a
small army of slaves. The buildings were surrounded by parks, vineyards,
woods and artificial lakes. The atria and peristyles were embellished
with valuable paintings and statues. The walls and ceilings of the
chambers were decorated with gold and precious stones. Nowhere else,
recorded in the history of the world, with the possible exception of the
palaces of the Incas, has gold ever been so lavishly used. On the
furniture and ornaments alone, millions were expended. A single cup of
murra brought 1,000,000 sesterces ($40,000). A small citrus wood table
cost a similar sum--yet Seneca owned 500 of them, an outlay on that
class of furniture alone of $20,000,000.

All Italy was covered with the country residences of the patricians.
They were found in numbers on the coast of Campania, the Sabine hills
and the lakes of the North.

The most esteemed members of the household staff were the coqui (cooks)
and the pistores (fancy bakers). They often amassed large fortunes from
their salaries and the many presents they received. All the other
servants (who were usually slaves) were under the jurisdiction of a
headman, an _atriensis_.

The first meal (_ientaculum_) was light, consisting ordinarily of bread
and wine with honey, dates, olives or cheese. At the prandium (their
_déjeuner à la fourchette_, which took the place of their noon dinner of
former days), meats, vegetables, fruits, bread and wine were provided.
After the second meal, the meridiato (or in modern language, the siesta)
was enjoyed, as it is in the Italy of this century--although, unlike the
sleepy town we know, business Rome then never slept.

After the short midday rest came games and exercises. The youth betook
themselves to Campus Martius. The older members of the family made use
of the sphaeristerium, a private gymnasium and ball room, which was
found in every house. With it were connected the private baths.

The cena, the principal meal, commenced at 3, 4 or 5 o'clock in the
afternoon. Seldom less than four hours were spent at table. Pliny, the
elder, who was considered a very abstemious man, sat down to his meal at
4 o'clock, and remained there "until it began to grow dark in summer and
soon after night in winter," at least three hours. The amount of food
consumed would be incredible were it not for the explanation recorded by
Seneca, "Edunt ut vomant; vomant ut edunt."

The dinner menu given below was of a very ordinary affair:


     Pickled Cabbage and Gherkins
     Radishes, Mushrooms, etc.

     _First Course._

     Conger Eels
     Two kinds of Mussels
     Thrushes on Asparagus
     Fat Fowls
     Ragout of Oysters and other Shellfish with black and white Maroons.

     _Second Course._

     Shellfish and other Marine Products
     Haunches of Venison
     Wild Boar
     Pastry of Beccaficos and other Birds.

     _Third Course._

     Sow's Udder
     Boar's Head
     Fricassee of Fish
     Fricassee of Sow's Udders
     Various kinds of ducks
     Roast Fowl
     Roast Pig

     _Fourth Course._

     Pastry in wonderfully elaborate forms and colors
     Pirentine bread

     _Fifth Course._

     Fruits and wines.

The "gustus," or appetizer, was also variously known as the "gustatio."
A favorite drink served with it was a mulsum of Hymetian honey and
Falernian wine.

Toothpicks made from the leaves of the mastich pistachio were in common

All the dishes were carved at the sideboards by expert carvers who were
trained in schools by practice on jointed wooden models.

Salt was much used in the flavoring of dishes and also to mingle with

[Illustration: A Roman bakery.]

Fowls were fattened in the dark. Ducks and geese were fed on figs and
dates. Pigs were cooked in fifty different ways. Boars were cooked
whole; peacocks with their tails. Sausages were imported from Gaul.

Vitellius and Apicius feasted on the tongues of flamingoes, and
Elagabalus on their brains.

The greater the waste at a dinner, the more absurd the extravagance, the
more successful it was deemed. This idea was carried out in every
department. A mullet of ordinary size was cheap--one that was rather
heavy easily brought 6,000 sesterces ($240.00).

[Illustration: Frame work of a Roman dining couch.]

In order to lengthen the time, jugglers, rope-dancers, buffoons and
actors were introduced between courses. Beautiful Andalusian girls
charmed the dinners with their voluptuous dances. Even gladiators were
engaged. Games of chance concluded the entertainment when the condition
of the revellers permitted.

At any large affair, an archon, or toastmaster, was selected by ballot
or acclamation. His duty it was to regulate the proportions of water and
wine and the size of the cups in which it was served. It was usual to
commence with the smallest and end with the largest.

At the table, the somber togas were exchanged for gay-colored garments
(_syntheses_), and the shoes for sandals. Some of the more ostentatious
changed their costumes several times during the progress of a meal. The
head and breast were sometimes wreathed with flowers and ornaments.

The tables first used were of quadrangular shape--three sides being
decorated for the guests and the fourth left vacant to facilitate the
movements of the attendants. They, however, were soon supplanted by
small tables of marble, bronze or citrus. These and a large sideboard
supported an amount of heavy gold and silver utensils.

The diners reclined on costly sofas, inlaid with tortoise shells and
jewels, and the lower parts decked with embroidered gold. The pillows
were stuffed with wool and covered with gorgeous purple. The cushions
which supported the elbows were covered with silk stuffs, often marked
to designate the places of the various guests.

Three people occupied each sofa. The lowest place on the middle sofa was
the seat of honor.

The room or hall was illuminated by lamps and candles, set on individual
and very expensive stands or massed in candelabras of great
magnificence. The oils and fats used for illumination were diluted with
substances which under the influence of heat gave forth odors of great

Each guest brought his own napkin.

Ivory-handled knives were manufactured, but seldom used, as the
reclining position rendered the spoons (_ligulae_) more convenient.

The dessert was arranged on the sideboards under the supervision of the
pistor and structor before the meal commenced.

A nomenclator was the regular employe of every patrician. His sole
office was to prompt his master on the names of his guests and clients,
or hangers-on.

Much care was devoted by the wealthy to their private stores of wines.
They were sealed in jars or bottles of baked clay, with labels attached
bearing the year of the consulship during which they were made. Some old
wines were very expensive. That of Campania was considered the best. The
Caecuban Falernian was very good. He was pitied who was forced to drink
the Vatican!

[Illustration: A banquet in the days of ancient Rome (original taken
from a stone carving excavated from the site of Pompeii).]

Greek wines were popular and were found in many Roman cellars.

In winter, wine was heated with water, honey and spices in a caldarium,
a vessel fitted with a small charcoal furnace, closely resembling the
Russian samovar.

Being unable to sensibly decrease their riches by ordinary methods, many
novel ideas were put in use, often at great expense.

Nero constructed in his golden house a vaulted ceiling which turned
continuously on its axis.

At a banquet given by Otho, tubes of gold and silver suddenly protruded
from various parts of the hall and sprinkled perfumes on the assembly.

Petronius describes a rather fanciful affair given by Trimalchio.

After the company had taken their places and young Egyptian slave girls
had bathed their hands and feet in scented snow water, there was placed
on the table a gold salver, inlaid with tortoise shell, in the middle of
which stood an ass of bronze bearing silver panniers, one filled with
white and the other with black olives. On his back sat a Silenus pouring
from a wineskin the favorite sauce the _garum_; at one side were
sausages on a silver gridiron, under which were plums and red
pomegranate kernels to represent glowing coals, and placed around were
trays bearing vegetables, snails, oysters and other appetizers.

When that course had been removed, another dish was brought in, of which
the central feature was a hen of carved citrus wood with expanded wings,
brooding over a nest of peafowls' eggs. These eggs were handed around on
silver egg-spoons weighing each more than half a pound. When the shells
were broken, some of the guests were horrified to find within them
half-hatched chicks; but on closer inspection these proved to be
beccaficos cooked in egg sauce.

As the plates were being removed, a chorus of Oriental beauties chanted
their strange songs. A slave by accident let fall a silver dish; he
stooped to pick it up--the atriensis boxed his ears and bade him sweep
it out with the other fragments.

Wine of rare virtue and great age was then brought in and distributed
with almost obtrusive extravagance.

The first heavy course again surprised many of those who were present.
It consisted apparently of the most ordinary dishes and joints. But
these proved to be merely cleverly designed covers, which on being
lifted, disclosed roasted pigs, field fares, capons, noble bartels and
turbots. In the centre was a plump hare which, by the addition of a pair
of wings, had been made to resemble a Pegasus. The carving was done in
the presence of the diners and to the strains of slow music.

Next came a huge boar roasted whole, with two palm twig baskets filled
with dates, hanging from his tusks. By his side were eight small pigs,
cleverly molded in paste, which were presented to guests as remembrances
of the occasion.

Following the boar was a large swine, also cooked whole. After much
acclamation, the carver was about to do his work, when with a look of
disgust he announced that it had not been disemboweled. The cook was
called and severely chided. He feigned regret and made many excuses;
then seizing a heavy knife, ripped the animal open, letting fall into
the dish a mass of sausages and rich puddings.

After the pig had been carried away and while the dessert was being
placed on the table, the ceiling opened and a silver hoop descended
bearing gold, silver and alabaster phials of essences, silver and jewel
coronets and many other things of similar character.

The pastry had been made to resemble shellfish, field fares, etc.
Quinces were stuck full of almonds to imitate sea urchins.

Surrounded by flowers was a figure of Vertumnus, with its bosom piled
with fruits. The guests were invited to help themselves, and the
pressure of their hands on the fruit caused a shower of the daintiest

When all had partaken to repletion of the goods served, the spirit of
Bacchus was given full sway, half nude dancers and singers threw off all
restraint, and there were enacted scenes of riotous carousing for which
Rome in its decadence became notorious.

A weird dinner was once given by the Emperor Domitian. He invited a
number of senators and knights to dine with him at a late hour. When
they arrived they found that the banquet room had been draped in somber
black. At each seat had been placed a tombstone bearing the inscription
of a diner and naked black slaves danced weird dances and served up
funeral viands on black dishes. When the company had been dismissed, its
members found that all their slaves had disappeared and unknown bearers
carried them to their homes. Each found on his return a message and a
souvenir awaiting him--a silver tombstone bearing his name.


Readers will find recorded in this chapter many things which are matters
of general knowledge, but this, they will readily understand, is
unavoidable when treating on the customs of so well known a people as
the Jews and drawing on the Bible for much of the information given. As
the facts drawn from the Scriptures have though been supplemented by the
results of the researches of many eminent travelers and writers, it is
hoped that the combination will be found worthy of the time expended on
its perusal.

The Mosaic dietary laws which for more than three thousand years formed
the text of important social and religious observances among the
inhabitants of the chosen kingdom were the outcome of a comparison of
the regulations and practices of contemporary nations. Whether the
system was compiled in the interest of humanity or health, it remains
true that it has proved itself to be one of the best economic regimes
ever made public. If for no other reason, the life of the ancient Jew is
especially interesting to those who study the foods of men, past and
present--although it must be admitted that the precepts they compiled
were more conducive to sound digestion than some of the practices they

The diet of the ancient Jews consisted at first, as did that of all the
pioneers of the human race, of but a few articles of food. But, though
meat was not consumed in large quantities, writers err when they
describe the food of Orientals as being light and simple. Orientals did,
and do, make use of an inordinate amount of grease in cooking. Eggs and
rice were, whenever circumstances permitted, saturated with fat or oil
and meats and vegetables were frequently simmered in fat before being
stewed. It was not unusual for a family of six or seven persons to
consume an average of two hundred pounds a year, and some of their
compounds would have ill suited delicate stomachs.

Bread, as in all ancient countries, constituted the greater part of the
food of the middle and lower classes. In Leviticus, Psalms and Ezekiel,
reference is made to the "staff of bread." It was most generally eaten
after being dipped into cheap wine or weak gravy.

The fresh green ears of wheat were often eaten without cooking, the
husks being rubbed off by hand. The grain was, though, more usually
roasted in a pan after being carefully sorted over, and it was sometimes
bruised and dried in the sun, to be afterwards served with oil.

"Kibbe" was a mixture composed of cracked wheat, boiled and dried,
beaten up with meat, onions, spices and the nut of a species of pine.

Wheat was also ground by women in hand mills formed of two stones, the
under one fixed and the upper movable.

The middle classes ate meat, vegetables, fruit or fish also, but always
as supplementary dishes to the staple article, bread.

Although in the earliest days the mistress and daughters of the house
did the baking, female servants were later employed by the wealthier
families. In Jerusalem indeed professional bakers, men, became so
numerous that a section of the town bore the title of "Bakers' Street."

The flour used in the manufacture of the common bread was mixed with
water or milk and kneaded with the hands in a small wooden bowl or
trough. Except in cases of great haste, leavening was then added. The
dough was allowed to stand for several hours, sometimes for the whole
night, in moderate heat. It was next rolled out and cut into circular
pieces about eight inches in diameter and three-quarters of an inch in
thickness. These were occasionally punctured and soaked with oil.

[Illustration: A portable oven of the Jews and Egyptians.

(From an old Egyptian drawing.)]

A more delicate kind of bread was twice kneaded before baking, and
stimulating seeds were added to it. Various varieties of thin cakes were
also baked every day and biscuits of substantial character were
furnished for travelers.

The professional bakers did their work in fixed, specially constructed
ovens, but portable ovens were usually found in private houses. They
were in the shape of stone or metal jars about three feet in height, and
were heated from the interior with wood, dried grass or flower stalks,
the cakes being placed on the ashes or the exterior sides of the oven
after the fire had burned down.

In other cases, a hole dug in the ground formed the oven, the sides
being covered with clay and the bottom with pebbles. Again, sometimes
the cakes were cooked on heated stones or by the more primitive method
of laying them directly on burning logs, or between two layers of dried
dung (then lighted and burned).

Some also baked the cakes in pans with oil and ate them whilst hot with
honey, or cooked them in such thin layers that they crumbled in the

Figs were eaten fresh and dried. Pomegranates, mulberries, sycamore
figs, citrons and apples were widely cultivated. Grapes were eaten raw
or made into fruit cake (which possessed distinctly stimulating
qualities). Similar cakes were also made of raisins, dates and
figs--which were compressed into bricks, and when hardened could be cut
up only by the use of an axe!

The bunches of grapes often attained a weight of twelve pounds.

Walnuts were plentiful. Oranges were introduced at a later date.

Among the vegetables grown were lentils (which were boiled and eaten
with butter oil or fat and pepper), leeks, onions, beans, barley,
lettuce, endive, purslane and other herbs. Vegetables were usually
boiled as potage.

The spices most in favor were cummin, dill, coriander, mint, mustard and
salt. Cummin was threshed with a rod and with salt served as a sauce.

Pistachio nuts and almonds were popular as whets.

Salads were extensively known.

Honey was used in some cakes as a substitute for sugar. It was also
eaten raw or with other articles of food, even fish.

Various artificial productions made from fruits and the exudations of
trees and shrubs bore the title of honey, the best known of which was
the boiled down juice of the grape, then called "d'bash," known to
modern Arabs as "dibs."

"Butter and honey" and "milk and honey" are in Biblical language
synonyms of the diet of prosperity.

The butter then used differed from our own product inasmuch as the hot
sun to which the cream was exposed when being churned rendered the
completed article more liquid. Even to-day in some parts of the Orient
the butter served to visiting Europeans has to be manufactured
especially for them from cold cream.

Cheese consisted of coagulated buttermilk, dried until hard and then

Oil was made from various vegetables, but that of the olive was most

Wine and water were carried in vessels made of the skins of goats, kids
or other clean animals. After the animal had been killed, the head, feet
and tail were cut off and the body was drawn out of the skin, which was
then tanned (acacia bark being sometimes called into service). The hairy
part of the skin formed the exterior of the vessel, the legs and the end
of the tail being sewn up. When filled, the neck was tied up.

An ox skin was used to make a "gerba" which formed a storage chamber for
large quantities of liquor. One of average size contained sixty gallons.

The milk of cows, sheep, camels and goats was drank. When fresh it was
known as "khalab," when sour as "khema." The latter was used in the
composition of salads and for cooking meats, etc.

A strengthening beverage was made by heating milk over a slow fire and
then adding a small piece of old khema or other acid to make it
coagulate. Much of this was bottled and kept for future use. It was the
universal refreshment offered strangers and the ancient Jew, like the
modern Arab, refused to accept payment for it.

The other drinks of the people were barley water; sherbet (made by
partially dissolving fig cake in water); pomegranate wine; beer made
from barley with herbs such as the lupin and skirret; honey, date, fig,
millet and grape wines and a drink made by placing raisins in jars of
water and burying them until fermentation had taken place. Water was
imbibed in large quantities after meals.

Vinegar was made by mixing barley with wine, or soured wine was used.

The prohibition expressed in the ninth chapter of Genesis against animal
blood as an article of diet was repeated with detailed instructions in
Leviticus. Instead of devoting a large amount of space to recounting the
regulations there expressed, it will perhaps be better to make only a
general classification of them.

There were interdicted: _Sheretz haaretz_, creeping things; _sheretz
haof_, winged insects, with the exception of the fully developed locust;
of _sheretz hamayim_, creatures dwelling in water, those which were not
provided with fins and scales; of the feathered species those which were
not furnished by nature with the implements with which to clean
themselves; of the quadrupeds and animals of the chase those that did
not chew the cud or were not provided with split hoofs.

The fat parts of animals were also reserved for the altar and temple

Special interdictions were announced against dead or injured animals;
though these did not extend to strangers. In the New Testament, these
laws are also mentioned as applying to healthy animals that had been
strangled or killed in any manner other than that prescribed.

In a word, the Mosaic laws prohibited the use of any flesh that was
diseased, bruised or rendered unwholesome by the presence of too much
blood and also of the flesh of animals that were not cleanly in habits,
diet or body.

Oxen were not eaten when older than three years.

It is not necessary to give here the oft-repeated methods of Jewish
butchery, as they have been of late so frequently described--and highly
endorsed--by medical and scientific men.

Fresh fish (eaten generally broiled) appears to have been the principal
article of diet in the environs of the Sea of Galilee. The Jews,
however, were not well versed in the character of the different species.
They roughly classed them as big, small, clean and unclean.

Salt fish also was imported into Jerusalem.

Locusts were considered to be but meagre fare, but they were eaten
salted, dried and roasted with butter in a pan.

An ordinary kitchen was equipped with a range, a heavy caldron, a large
fork or flesh hook, a wide, open metal vessel for heating water, etc.,
two or more earthenware pots and numerous dishes.

The kid, lamb or calf, killed on the advent of a holiday or in honor of
a guest, would sometimes be roasted or baked whole, but it was usually
cut up and boiled in a caldron filled with water or milk and set over a
wood fire, the scum being taken off from time to time and salt and
spices added.

The meat and broth were served up separately or together as desire might

The principal meal was held in the early evening, although occasionally
noon was chosen for a big banquet.

The early Hebrews seated themselves on the ground when partaking of a
meal; but their descendants soon succumbed to the example of the
Egyptians and adopted the reclining couch, which was universally used in
the time of Christ.

The first reference we have to the change in custom is found in the book
of Amos, where the prophet rebukes those who "lie upon beds of ivory."
Ezekiel also inveighs against one who "sat on a stately bed with a table
prepared before it."

Each couch seated from three to five persons, and the women usually
dined with the men.

The meat and vegetables were sometimes served in one large dish, into
which each in turn dipped his bread, but on other occasions portions
were placed on individual plates.

Many events were made excuses for festivals.

The "mishteh" was a drinking party, which in the apostolic age was
called a "komos" and was often the occasion of gross licentiousness.

The cups used were modelled after those made by the Egyptians. The "cup
bearer" or butler held a very important position in a rich man's

During times of fasting or sorrow, all meats, wines, etc., were
eschewed. They were called the "bread of desires."

Prison fare consisted of bread or pulse and water.

The vine or apples of Sodom, the "Dead Sea fruits that tempt the eye,
but turn to ashes on the lips" of which Josephus wrote and Moore and
Byron sang, are worthy of more than passing notice. They have caused a
great deal of discussion among scientists and travelers who have
differed in their opinions as to the identity of the fruit or plant

[Illustration: The colocynth--"the Dead Sea fruits."]

As the _ecbalium elaterium_, with variations in name, it has been
described by Dioscorides, Theophrastus, Pliny, Celeius, Rosenmuller,
Winner and Gesenius; as the _cucumbis prophetarium_, and _solanium
sodomaeum_ by others; as the _asclepias procera_ by Burckhardt, Irby,
Mangles and Dr. Robinson. Among still other disputing writers may be
mentioned Pococke, Hasselquist, Seetzen, Elliot and Chateaubriand.

Michaelis, Oedman, Dr. J. D. Hooker and the Rev. W. Houghton agree that
Josephus referred to the fruit of the colocynth (_citrullus
colocynthis_) which resembles an orange in appearance, and when dry will
burst on pressure with a crashing noise.

[Illustration: Tamarix Gallica--The Manna plant of the Scriptural

The varying opinions may be ascribed to the fact that in the south of
Palestine are found several members of the gourd tribe, as well as the
fruits of several shrubs and trees, which under certain conditions
answer very closely to the descriptions afforded us of the "Dead Sea
Fruits," although the colocynth is the only one that answers them in
every way.

The palm tree, once so plentiful in Judaea, is now rare and in the
vicinity of Jericho is extinct, the last one having died a few years

All readers of the Scriptures remember the important part which manna
played in the history of the Jews. The manna which is at the present day
known in the Arabian desert through which the Israelites passed is
collected in June from the tarfa or tamarisk shrub (_Tamarix Gallica_).
According to Burkhardt, it drops from the thorns on to the sticks and
leaves which cover the ground and must be gathered early in the day or
it will be melted by the heat of the sun. Its fall is said to be caused
by the punctures made by insects. The Arabs cleanse, boil and strain it
and put it up in leather bottles, and thus prepared it will retain its
virtues for several years. It is used in the place of honey or
butter--it is never eaten alone. It is abundant only in wet seasons, and
in a very dry year it is not found at all. It is not exactly peculiar in
character, as there are several shrubs in India and Syria.

[Illustration: Salvadora--The arboreous Mustard Plant of Palestine.]

Niebuhr discovered at Mardin, in Mesopotamia, on the leaves of a tree, a
species of _capparis_, a kind of manna which appears during the months
of July and August, being most plentiful in wet seasons. If shaken off
before sunrise, it is pure white in color. If let remain, it collects
until very thick, and the leaves are then gathered and steeped in
boiling water until the manna floats to the top like oil. This is called
by the natives _manna essemma_, heavenly manna.

Burkhardt found in the valley of Jordan a similar gum on the leaves and
branches of the tree gharrob (a species of oak), which fell to the
ground in drops of brown-gray dew. Its taste at first was sweet, but
after a day's exposure to the elements became acrid.

The manna of European commerce is exported from Calabria and Sicily. It
drops from punctures made in a species of ash by an insect resembling
the locust. It is fluid at night, but begins to harden in the morning.

The manna of Scripture, which was the sole support of the Israelites for
forty years, must be regarded as miraculous, as (1) manna is under
ordinary circumstances stimulating rather than sustaining, (2) the
season in which it is found does not extend over a term of more than
three or four months, (3) it is found only in small quantities compared
to the enormous amount--15,000,000 pounds a week--which would have been
necessary to provide each member of the Israelite camp with the rations
mentioned, (4) a double quantity certainly does not fall on the day
preceding the Sabbath and (5) no natural product ceases at once and

The mustard plant mentioned in the Gospels may have been either the
common mustard plant which grows to a large size in the Orient, or it
may have been the _Salvadora persica_, an arboreous plant of abundant
foliage, the seeds and leaves of which have a distinct flavor of


It would be foolish to publish any strict dietary code as descriptive of
the food of the people of the vast region generally known as the Chinese
Empire, for apart from the difference in the products of the various
sections of that diversified country, it must be remembered that the
numerous tribes, which when amalgamated centuries ago formed the Empire,
have retained most of their original customs, owing partly to the
paucity of transportation facilities and the consequent impediments to
an interchange of ideas, partly to the conservative nature of the people
and partly to the influence of climate and surroundings. Furthermore,
as, excepting a few fruits which are of comparatively recent
introduction, such as the pineapple, the foods of Chinamen to-day
closely resemble the foods of Chinamen four thousand years ago, it will
not be necessary in this volume to keep very strictly apart the past and
the present.

Until quite recently it was customary to regard the Chinese as
uncivilized and degraded heathens who voraciously devoured all kinds of
vermin and other miscellaneous tit-bits which to most people of the
Western Hemisphere are repulsive even in suggestion, hence it may be
well to repeat here that, although it remains true that cats, dogs and
rats occasionally serve as articles of food, this happens only when
provisions are scarce or among the very poor, who (as in all civilized
countries), linger always on the threshold of starvation.

The Chinese, in spite of the doleful tales of some writers, are on the
whole a well fed race. Beef and mutton are not plentiful except in the
north, but hogs, poultry and fish, with vegetables, fruits and rice are
within the reach of a majority of the population. Wrote a Chinese sage:
"The scholar forsakes not his books nor the poor man his pig."
Furthermore, in the preparation of their national dishes the Chinese
cooks (especially those in the cities and in the households of the rich)
display a high degree of skill.

Wheat, several varieties of rice and sweet potatoes are grown in all
parts of the Empire, and barley, sorghum, cabbages, beans and other
vegetables and sugar cane are also raised in large quantities.

Rice is seldom ground except when made into cakes.

The sorghum, or hauliang (extensively cultivated in the north), is not
used as in America for the manufacture of sugar, but the seeds are
ground and made into a coarse bread or used for the preparation of some
brands of whiskey.

Sweet potatoes are sliced into coarse strips and dried in the sun. It
is, though, considered a sign of extreme poverty to be seen eating them
at any meal other than a lunch or hurried repast.

Of the vegetables, the petsae or white cabbage is the most widely

Beans grow luxuriantly. Fully one-half of the crop is crushed for the
sake of the oil, the residue being pressed into bricks and used as a

"Bean curds" is a very popular dish, especially for breakfast. The beans
are ground to a flour, which is passed through three strainers of
coarse, medium fine and very fine linen. This is boiled for an hour over
a slow fire until the proper consistency is obtained.

Salted beans form quite an important article of commerce. Four catties
of beans are put in a jar with one catty of salt, half a catty of ginger
and a few taels of almonds and spices. The jars are then sealed and left
untouched for about a month.

A more novel way is to put the beans in earthenware jars filled with
very clear spring water, changing the water every four hours. In seven
days tender shoots have appeared and the beans are then sold as a

Peanuts are grown for the sake of their oil.

Hsiang-yu is a fragrant oil made from peanuts and beans, which is used
for the toilet and by the poor for cooking. Castor oil answers the same

The juice of the sugar cane is extracted by crushing the stalks in two
perpendicular cylinders, kept in motion by a yoke of buffalos, the juice
being received in a tub placed beneath. Lime is added to the juice and
it is then immediately boiled.

[Illustration: A Chinese poulterer's shop.]

Within the limits of Chinese territory are found almost all known
varieties of fruits, some of which are indigenous to it.

The whampee is a yellow skinned fruit about the size of a grape which
hangs in clusters from the glossy-leaved trees which produce it. The
flavor is tart and its three or four stones are of a greenish color.

The li-chi has a rough red exterior. Inside is a white film which
incloses a watery translucent pulp of a sweetish taste and a brownish
black ovoid stone.

The lo-quat is a species of medlar.

Oranges, ginger, etc., are preserved in sugar.

Ducks are raised in almost incredible numbers. Their eggs and those of
fowls are frequently hatched by artificial heat.

Eggs that have been preserved in lime for several, sometimes a great
many, years are much esteemed. After a quarter of a century, the yellow
assumes a dark brown color and the whites have the appearance of meat
jelly--strange though it may seem, they are really excellent in that

All foods served at a genuine Chinese dinner are previously cut into
minute particles. The large roast pieces which adorn the tables at
dinners given in seaport towns to foreigners of note are placed there
merely in deference to the customs of the guests.

[Illustration: A Chinese dinner party.]

Rice and soup are brought on to the table in large vessels from which
individual saucers are filled. Other dishes are partaken of by all
present directly from the common bowl.

It is considered a token of hospitality on the part of the host or
friendliness on the part of an acquaintance to take an especially choice
piece of meat or vegetable from the bowl and to place it on the plate or
in the mouth of a fellow diner.

The two chopsticks are both held in the right instead of separately in
each hand as ordinarily believed. They are maintained by the thumb and
ring finger and manipulated by the index and middle fingers. One stick
remains motionless, the other is so manoeuvred as to entrap with ease a
morsel of meat or even the smallest grain of rice.

The sticks (square at the top and round for the rest of their length)
are made of bamboo or more precious woods, ivory or silver. On the upper
portions, poems and pictures are often engraved.

Spoons are used for liquids.

[Illustration: Chopsticks and bowl.]

An ordinary meal among the middle classes consists of eight dishes--two
vegetables, eggs, fish, shell fish, bird and two meats (pork and goat;
or, in some parts of the north, mutton and beef).

With this will be served a large tureen of soup with rice, the latter
taking the place of bread.

When eating rice, the bowl is raised by the left hand to a close
proximity to the mouth and the rice is rather scooped than picked up.

The importance which is attached to rice as a life-sustaining article
may be judged from the exclamation of a Chinese sailor when he was
informed that it was held in but secondary repute in America. Throwing
up both hands with an expression in which were combined horror and pity,
he cried: "Oh, the sterile region of barbarians which produces not the
necessaries of life; strange that the inhabitants have not long ago died
of hunger!"

Two good meals a day, the customary number, and a light luncheon, will
in the average native home represent the expenditure of about ten cents
in American money.

Wine is served only on special occasions.

The hotels in the large cities are distinguished by titles as in this
country, though the Chinese proprietor gives freer rein to his
imagination, choosing such titles as "Cum Lee" (Golden Profits), "Cut
Shing" (Rank Conferring Hotel), the "Cut Sing" (Fortunate Star), etc.
They are often comparatively tall structures and are usually clustered
together in one quarter of the town.

[Illustration: A Chinese distillery.]

The ground floor of the ordinary hotel is reserved for the proprietor's
apartments and the kitchen. The first floor contains one public and
several private dining-rooms; and the second and upper floors are
divided into sleeping apartments--the partitions of which are so thin
that even a whispered conversation is intelligible to a party in the
adjoining room.

There is not much comfort to be obtained in the villages, and the
accommodations are worse in the south and central districts than in the
north and Mongolia.

The country caravansary is built in the form of a quadrangle with the
walls, in the North, of mud or clay.

In the one public room, the traveler perforce mingles with cattle
drovers and muleteers, but the private apartments are fairly

The stables are usually attached to the building, with large compounds
for sheep or cattle. Some of the larger establishments boast separate
quadrangle stables, while some of the smaller have none at all, the
animals being hitched to troughs or racks in the centre of the

[Illustration: A Chinese restaurant.]

The beds (_cangues_) are shaped like furnaces. The occupant, protected
by a thick coverlet, reclines on the top of a stratum of chunam or
asphalt, with an opening similar to the door of a furnace, in one of the
perpendicular sides, by means of which a small fire is in cold weather
built directly beneath the bed.

The poorer travelers sleep in the public hall.

In some cities are khans which act as depots for the goods of traveling
merchants, who are boarded and lodged without charge until they have
disposed of their stock, the landlord then receiving a small percentage
of the sales.

The proprietor of a public inn is compelled to furnish the authorities
each month with a list of the persons whom he has lodged or fed, and
women are not received at all in the public hotels in the South.

The restaurants in the cities are often quite large, running to two and
three stories in height.

On the ground floor is the kitchen. On the first floor at the head of
the first staircase is the public dining room where a good cheap meal
can be obtained, and on the second and third floors are the private and
more select chambers. In each room is a bill of fare.

An ordinary first class restaurant dinner comprises from ten to thirty
dishes, and for any special occasion a hundred or more are often served.

Below is the menu of a dinner which, if served to eight or ten persons
at a good public city restaurant, would cost about seventy-five cents
per head.

     Fried Ham
     Grated meat Grilled
     Dried shrimps
     Preserved eggs

     Four kinds of dried fruits
     Four kinds of fresh fruits

     Fat duck
     Shark's fins
     Swallowsnest soup

     Salted chicken

     Mushroom morels (called "Ears of the Forest").
     Rice of Immortals (a species of mushrooms).
     Tender sprouts of bamboo


The diners are usually seated at square tables in groups of eight.

Chinese whiskey or wine is served in small double-handled cups, which
are constantly replenished by the attendants from vessels resembling
silver coffee pots. Pipes of tobacco are also passed around at

Before eating, the host or most prominent guest pours out a libation.
His table companions follow his example and all bow politely to each

[Illustration: Chinaman spearing fresh water turtles.]

Pastry is brought on between courses. If salt, a cup of chicken broth;
if sweet, almond milk is furnished with it.

No napkins are provided, pieces of coarse brown paper being used in
their stead.

The last is a sort of "trial of appetite" course. It consists of large
dishes--sometimes eight or ten arranged in pyramid form--and the ever
forthcoming refusal to partake of it announces the termination of the

The attendants then bring in towels and bowls of hot water. They immerse
the towels in the water, and after wringing them out present them to the
guests in the order of their importance.

On special occasions the water is scented with otto of roses.

One habit of the attendants which is especially surprising to the novice
is that as their labors during the meal increase the temperature of
their bodies, the waiters divest themselves of the greater part of their

One restaurant in Canton which caters for the cheaper class of trade,
feeds on an average five thousand persons daily. Each patron is served
with portions of regular size, and allowance is made for any pieces
which he may not eat.

The tea saloons are divided into two large rooms furnished with stools
and tables. Cakes, preserved fruits and tea are served. The cups are
usually covered so as to prevent the aroma of the tea from evaporating.

"Dog and cat" restaurants consist of one large public apartment, with
the entrance to the dining room through the kitchen.

Soup stalls are found on the street corners of the cities. They sell
luncheons of fish, pork, soups, vegetables, fried locusts, etc., from
one to two cents.

The oven, or, to speak more accurately, the baking apparatus, of the
average establishment is somewhat singular. It consists of a furnace
resembling a copper in shape, built in the center of an outhouse. The
hollow part (which is shallow) is filled with charcoal. A lid, which
fits the aperture, is so suspended by chains from the beams above as to
be capable of elevation or depression. Upon this lid, pastry and cakes
are placed and kept directly above or at any distance from the fire,
according to the heat desired.

The bakers often manufacture their bread without the use of shortening
of any description.

A very popular cake consists partially of mincemeat. The baker before
commencing to make it, places a pile of dough on one side and opposite
it a heap of mincemeat--a mixture of pork, sugar, spices, etc. He then
pulls off a piece of dough, rolls it into a ball, flattens it, covers it
with the meat, rolls it into a ball again, shapes it into a ring and
flattens it by a stroke of the hand into a cake of definite size and

Among other dainty dishes of Chinaland are the "t'ien ya tzu," a species
of delicately flavored fat duck; "feng chi," salted chicken; a dish of
amber gelatine; a salad of bamboo shoots; "huo t'ui," a dainty ham of
the appearance of veal; "yü ch'ih," shark's fins, and "hai li tzu,"
devilled oysters with mushrooms.

Other items are salted earthworms, pigeon's eggs, pounded shrimps;
bird's nest soup, a gelatinous article; beches de mer (sea slugs), water
beetles and silkworms, the last named fried in oil after they have made
their cocoons.

A much admired soup, prepared for an imperial feast, was of blood and
mare's milk.

Oysters are very cheap in winter, selling at from five to six cents per

The following receipts may be of interest as literal translations from a
genuine Chinese cook book:

     _Steamed Shark's Fins._

     Take the sun-dried shark's fins, place in a cooking pan, add wood
     ashes and boil in several waters. Then take out and scrape the
     roughness from the fins. If not clean, boil again and scrape again
     until clean. Then change the water and boil again. Take out and
     remove the flesh, keeping only the fins themselves. Boil again and
     put in spring water. The frequent changing of the water is
     necessary to take out the lime taste. Put the fins into the soup
     and stew until quite tender. Dish in a bowl, placing crab meat
     below and a little ham on top.

     _Chicken with the Liquor of Fermented Rice._

     Bone a chicken and steam until just right; take out and let cool,
     then cut into thin slices. Next, take gelatinous rice which has
     been fermented with yeast and water; cook this for two hours, add a
     little of the juice expressed from fresh ginger, soy, sesamum and
     oil. Mix together with peanut oil. Dish and add fragrant herbs.

     _Genii Ducks._

     Take a fat duck; open and clean. Take two mace of salt, rub it both
     outside and inside and put into an earthen dish. Take one cup of
     fan spirits and put (the cup with the spirits) inside the
     duck--only the vapor of the spirits is wanted. Steam over water
     until quite tender, then lift out the wine cup and put the bird
     into a bowl.

The most common native liquor are "suee chow," a rice brandy; "shas
chin," an impure alcohol made from kauliang or sorghum; "huary chin," a
yellow wine made from millet, and various spirits extracted from plums,
apples, pears, etc. All liquors are drunk hot, and some of them are
steeped with spices or the leaves of flowers.

Although spirits are plentiful and cheap, drunkenness is rare.

Tea, of course, is consumed by all classes.

A curious custom annually observed is the propitiatory offering to the
God of the Kitchen, who is worshipped in all parts of China, and who is
supposed to report his observations to the Pearly Emperor Supreme Ruler.

[Illustration: Family Offering to the Kitchen God.]

He is represented in each kitchen by a slip of white or red paper
(changed each year as a rule) bearing his name and title and sometimes
his portrait, pasted on the wall in some convenient part of the room.

Among the better classes the kitchen god is also known as the
superintendent or inspector of good and evil.

On the evening of the twenty-third day of the twelfth month a special
sacrifice is made in his honor by about sixty per cent. of the
population. Meats, cakes, fruits and wines are offered with candles,
incense, mock money, etc., and all members of the family then kneel
reverently before his representation and bow their heads in homage.

On the evening of the twenty-fourth those who have not participated in
the ceremonies of the previous day, make a vegetable offering in a
similar manner.

[Illustration: A Chinese kitchen boat.]

Many of the wealthier classes make both offerings on the twenty-third.
The poorest use only incense and candles.

The numerous sailing vessels on the rivers and lakes are as well fitted
to supply the wants of the traveler as the hotels on shore.

The houseboats and some of the passenger boats rely for their meals on
the kitchen boats, which are really admirably managed.

The fishing boats make use of a very primitive heating apparatus--a
large boiler in an earthenware furnace set in a part of the deck,
serving as the general cook book.

A great many pages might be covered by treating on the curious
festivities which celebrate so many occasions, but they have been so
often described in other works that a description of them here would
perhaps savor too much of needless repetition.

_Other Works from the Book Department of THE CATERER_

Martyn's Menu Dictionary

Price $1

     (_130 pages, two columns to a page, cloth bound._)

The most complete dictionary of menu, culinary and food terms ever
published. More than _five thousand items_. In two sections:
French-English and English-French. The first section includes also about
600 wine names with brief descriptive notes and both parts list a number
of German words with English and French translations.

How to Make Money in a Country Hotel

Price $2

     (_200 pages, printed on the finest paper and handsomely bound)._
     _Third edition._

The reason for the great success of this work is probably to be found in
the fact that the author does not content himself with merely advising
"greater economy," or "better business methods"--instead he gets right
down to a practical hold of the subject and shows _how_ to economize and
how to increase one's trade.

The Financial Side of Hotel Keeping

Price $2

     (_300 pages, handsomely printed and bound._) _Second Edition._

This book is entirely different from any other work on the hotel
business. The main "story" takes up the matter of location, investment,
equipment, etc., the "financing" of the business after starting, and
many points touching on policy, organization, etc., and the management
of the back part of the house. Following this is a series of papers on
the restaurant business.

The Wine Steward's Manual

Price $1

     (_108 pages, illustrated, cloth bound._)

A handy volume on the care and service of wines, with contributions from
the highest authorities.

Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

Price 50 cents

Compiled from standard historical works. Seventy-two pages, well

Dainty Dishes

Price (cloth bound) $1

     By Adolphe Meyer, author of "The Post-Graduate Cookery Book," "Eggs
     and How to Use Them," etc.

A book of specially "dainty dishes" which offers many opportunities to
vary the daily bill of fare or the banquet or ball supper menu--usually
without adding anything to the cost and sometimes at smaller expense.

The Post-Graduate Cookery Book

Price (cloth bound) $2

     By Adolphe Meyer, for 11 years chef of the exclusive Union Club,
     New York.

     (_Nearly 300 pages. About 1,000 receipts._)

"The Post-Graduate Cookery Book" is a work containing matter
supplementary to, or in advance of, the regular standard works on
cookery and kindred matters.

It has a special intrinsic value to the purchaser, for it contains a
large number of receipts for special dishes which have never appeared in
print elsewhere. Some of these receipts are new, others are for special
dishes which have helped to enhance the reputations of famous
establishments both in Europe and this country.

Eggs and How to Use Them

Price $1

     By Adolphe Meyer, Author of "The Post-Graduate Cookery Book," etc.
     (_Third Edition._)

     (_150 pages, cloth bound._)

About 600 receipts, classified as "poached, shirred, molded, omelettes,
etc., etc.," and with titles in both French and English.

Fables of the Hotel Profession and Poems of Good Cheer

Price 50 cts.

     _A dainty little volume of 88 pages, bound in gilt lettered cloth._

The "Fables" (by Charles Martyn) are little stories of the hotel
business, which "hit off," in semi-humorous manner, many typical
characters and conditions.

"Poems of Good Cheer" (by Frank W. Doolittle) is a title made generously
broad to cover a number of verses on the hotel business, those engaged
in it and the good things dispensed.

Established 1893.      NEW YORK.

Publishers of THE CATERER, the "monthly text book" of the hotel, club
and high-class restaurant business. Subscription price, $2 a year; $1.25
for six months.

THE CATERER keeps its readers informed on everything that is new in the
hotel, club and high-class restaurant business--new ideas in service,
reports of special occasions (such as banquets, etc.), new items of
equipment, new points in system, etc. Every issue also contains a
variety of other matter of general interest, "what's happening among our
subscribers," etc.--all written in entertaining style.

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