|An unfinished sculptor's model, recovered from the|
Amarna North Palace, showing a princess eating
a whole roasted duck.
Ancient Egypt was blessed with abundant natural resources. The annual Nile flood allowed the farmers to grow grain, fruit and vegetables. There were fish in the river, birds in the marshes, cattle in the Delta fields and pigs, sheep and goats in the villages. While poorer ancient Egyptians would have relied on a fairly monotonous diet of bread, fish and vegetables, the royal family enjoyed the best of everything.
The widespread availability of fresh food meant that there was little need for Egypt's cooks to develop complicated recipes or spicy sauces. Meats were grilled, roasted or boiled and many vegetables were eaten raw. It was sheer variety of foodstuffs on offer that stimulated the tastebuds. Little wonder that the scribes warned against greed:
When you sit down to eat in company, shun the foods you love. Restraint only needs a moment's effort, whereas gluttony is based and is reproved. A cup of water will quench your thirst and a mouthful of herbs will strengthen your heart....