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Published 2022-04-15
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Jesus' Diet - Not Just Bread And Wine But Also Insects!

Archaeological research can provide more information than you might expect. By finding fragments of pottery, the remains of tableware, faded frescoes, fossilized plant remains, and animal bones during excavations, researchers have been able to determine what ancient people ate, and even what Jesus' own diet was like. Did his menu actually consist primarily of bread and wine? What were the most likely foods to be on the table during the Last Supper? How is it possible to prepare Christ-like dishes in your own kitchen today? And how much information about the meals of the Son of God can be found in the Bible? Read until the end and find out little-known facts about his diet thousands of years old!

The diet of Jesus - bread

The subject of the food eaten during the time of Jesus has been sparking the imagination of researchers for many years. One way to learn much more about it is to study the Bible and historical texts for any dietary clues about Christ's diet. Let's start with the fact that according to the Scriptures, Jesus ate bread every day and it was a staple of the menus of all people living at that time. This is also confirmed by scientific studies, according to which, grains accounted for about 70% of the diet at that time. Thousands of years old vessels discovered by archaeologists in the Holy Land and now kept in museums have hidden valuable microbiological remains inside, thanks to which it has been established that bread at the time of Christ was made from barley or wheat flour. However, only the wealthiest could afford the latter, so baked goods made of barley were the most popular. Did they look and taste like those of today? Find out on the next page.

How was bread made in Jesus' day?

Grain was ground by hand with a tool called a quern, and olive oil, salt, or honey were also added to the dough for baking. The bread was baked in small clay ovens where the dough was placed directly on glowing charcoal. It is interesting to note that such baking places are still used in the Middle East today. And returning to the ancient bread, the analysis of historians shows that it differed significantly from modern bread. It was darker and heavier, and its shape did not resemble the loaves we all know, but a thin pancake or matzah. It was eaten immediately after baking because it got stale quickly, and to make it even softer the baked product was dipped in water, wine, vinegar, or oil, which made it easier to chew. It was usually served with whole olives or legumes like lentils, or it was also used as a spoon to make eating other foods easier.

Jesus ate bugs?!

Quite common menu items of those times were cheese, dates, nuts, locally grown fruits, and vegetables, and based on the Bible, it was found that Jesus also often ate fish. Several of his disciples were fishermen by trade, so thanks to them the catch landed on the table in the form of fresh, as well as dried or smoked. Even grasshoppers and crickets were served as snacks, and all these foods provided a diet without excess fat or cholesterol. But did Jesus eat meat? According to the Bible, yes, and it came mainly from lambs, goats, or sheep. However, it was not a staple of the daily diet of the people of that time, but only a treat is eaten once in a while, which, according to researchers, was mainly due to the lack of refrigerators and places where meat could stay fresh longer.

Jesus' diet - meat

At an archaeological site just a few kilometers from Jesus' birthplace, animal bones were also found. Thanks to the traces on the excavated remains, it was possible to determine that animals were taken in ritual slaughter, and pigs were missing among them, indicating that Jerusalemites' contemporaries of Christ were faithful to the precepts of kosher since pork is one of the foods considered unclean.

Jesus and the Mediterranean Diet

Jesus himself, according to the Bible, departed from these rules, and even in the Gospel of St. Mark, we can read that he considered any kind of food clean. At the same time, as a poor man, he could not afford elaborate meals and ate small ones that were prepared from products available in his region. He ate meat infrequently because it was expensive, and his diet was mainly based on plants, olive oil, and fish. Based on Scriptures and historical records, it has been determined that he had what we today call a Mediterranean diet.

via GIPHY

The diet of Jesus - wine

You already know what Jesus ate, but what drinks did he most often consume?
It was primarily wine and water. Studying some passages of the New Testament, you can even learn that the most famous drink of Christ's time did not have so few percentages, because the Greek word used for wine was oinos, meaning a beverage that is highly fermented. There are also records that it was mixed with pure water during the meal, and it was this diluted wine that Jesus drank most often.

What kind of wine did Jesus drink?

At that time, red wine, in particular, was produced, which, as you can guess, tasted very different than today. Originating from biblical times, bottles of this beverage were excavated at several archaeological sites in the Holy Land, and on the basis of samples taken from them, it was determined that the drink did not contain sulfites, was usually sweet, seasoned with spices, and preserved with wood resin. It was usually fermented in clay pots or beakers made of animal skins. Fermented drinks were safer to drink than water, which was prone to contamination, so over time beer and other grain-based spirits were also learned to be brewed, although there is no longer any evidence that Jesus tasted in them either.

via GIPHY

Food at the Last Supper

In 2016, two Italian archaeologists decided to investigate in turn what foods were on the table at the Last Supper. Studying the Bible, Jewish texts, and historical data, revealed that it was not at all just wine and bread, but a much richer menu consisting of lamb, bean stew, fish sauce, dates and olives, walnut paste, or bitter herbs with pistachios. The material examined by archaeologists has not only provided information about eating habits but also about what the most memorable meal of Jesus' life actually looked like. At the Last Supper there was no long rectangular table as shown in most religious paintings, but a completely low and square piece of furniture around which Jesus and his apostles sat on cushions on the floor.

How do you cook foods from the time of Jesus?

Ancient cuisine has long ceased to be of interest only to archaeologists. In fact, their research has made it possible to return to the cultivation of several varieties of wheat that grew in fields thousands of years ago. Using them, cooks are trying to recreate recipes from the time of Jesus, for example. This is not an easy task, because the preserved recipes are not very specific and when recreating them a lot depends on one's own interpretation, but nevertheless, there is no shortage of experimenters. For example, a certain Seamus Blackley with the help of scientists baked bread, which was eaten by workers building the Egyptian pyramids. A team of French researchers took on the production of wine based on ancient Roman recipes, exactly the same that Nero once drank. Biologists from the Hebrew University, on the other hand, have teamed up with brewers to decoct beer that was probably drunk by Goliath himself. If you would like to experiment with ancient cuisine, you can buy cookbooks with recipes from the Mongolian empire. Perhaps the most famous book about the food Jesus ate is "What Would Jesus Eat?" by Dr. Don Colbert.

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