History’s Unknown, Part II: Ancient Desserts

Hello friends, fans, and loyal supporters sorry my series is dragging, but I have been busy traveling and attending conferences on historical topics. 
This second essay in the History’s Unknown follows sweets and treats from Classical Antiquity, from Rome and Greece and such. More importantly this essay on Ancient Desserts is a special dedication to by very best friend, my little sister, Keely who we call Kiwi! Happy 21st birthday babygirl lol but I guess I can’t call you that anymore huh haha 

First we begin with Keely’s personal favorite, ice cream, the girl adores this treat most of all. Roman Emperor Nero once ordered that ice be chipped and carted from the mountains, and brought to his palace, where they were to be combined with fruit toppings.

Ice cream is not as recent as people may think, in fact, in the year 1780 B.C. the King of Mari commanded an icehouse be built to store snow. It was the first of its kind. These icehouses flourished in the eras of Persian and Greek empires; Alexander the Great is said to have preferred his snow flavored with honey and nectar, and used it as an instrument to reward his soldiers.

The icehouses belonging to the Persians called Yakhchals had the capacity to store snow for long periods of time. The Persians were quite fond of flavoring their snow with grape juice.

There is also the tale of King Tang of Shang who loved to freeze buffalo milk then mixed it with flour, and flavored it with camphor. In the tomb of his descendant, prince Zhanghuai depicts a picture of women carrying “Su Shan” another ancient dessert. 

The Arab formula for ice cream. mainly in Baghdad and Damascus was, of course milk and sugar. But they also used rosewater, nuts, and dried fruits. 

The Egyptians were famous for many things, but desserts is one of thier more underrated treasures by historians; found on a broken piece of Egyptian pottery was the recipe for Tiger Nuts.

Tiger Nuts come from the Cypherus esculentus plant. The nuts were chopped into small pieces, and topped with honey and spices. 

Honey cakes, date loaves, and dumplings. While the latter is a famous food, the formers are pretty rare for the most part; we have tomb paintings depicting Egyptians smashing down honey cakes. Cooked in the shape of a folded pie and filled with not just honey but fruit and nuts.

Date loaves were crocodile-shaped loaves of mashed dates, mixed with goat’s milk, honey, and coconut. The reason for the crocodile shape is due to its symbolism in Egypt, which meant good luck.

Furthermore, dumplings as I said are nothing new. The ancient Egyptians rolled their dumplings in cinnamon. drizzled them in honey, and shaped into balls.

As you can see honey was a major staple in Classical Antiquity. Ironically, it can be considered the first candy. Once sugar was introduced in the medieval period did consumership of sweets triple. 

The term “cake” is originate from the Norse word “kaka”. And as you have read you see how cakes of the ancients was different from ours, as they were made out of bread and honey.

The pie has surprising roots too. Known as galettes in 9,500 B.C. it was cooked over host coals inserted with various fruits and reserved only for the Egyptian Pharoah. King Ramses loved his pies so much his tomb is decorating with paintings of such. 

And so Happy Birthday babygirl!!! ❤❤❤

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