Wednesday, September 19, 2012

World’s Oldest Written Recipe (and it’s for Beer!)

This is a very special recipe on several different levels. First, at 4,000 years old, it’s the oldest known written recipe. Second, it was handed down by a god.

Although the recipe was said to have been given to men by the Sumerian god Enki, the written version was found contained in a hymn dedicated to the beer goddess Ninkasi. Beer was the national fermented drink of ancient Babylonia.

In the beginning, beer was probably an accidental by-product of the bread making process. Ancient Sumerians preserved grain by baking it, usually in the form of bread. When this bread got wet, it fermented into a kind of liquid beer. Over time, honey and other spices were used to flavor the brew. The resulting beer was strong. It was also full of pieces of bread and other more or less solid materials, making it a hard to drink. The Sumerians’ solution was to drink their beer through a straw.

Beer was so important in the ancient world that laws were passed governing it. Beer was even part of the pay of workers in Mesopotamia, Egypt and other ancient civilizations. The Babylonians are known to have made at least sixteen different kinds of beer and used a variety of grains, including barley and wheat, along with honey. Beer was also mentioned in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

If you’d like the recipe, you can find it here