From field to bowl

On this blog you’ll find many posts about harvesting, food processing and eating. Recently I’ve come across an article by Thomas Staubli, which put all the different elements of food processing in sequence. Here is an outline of how field crops arrived in the bowl at dinner in Ancient Israel.
A lot of work has to be invested until field crops can be harvested, but let’s start at this stage. For through the harvest the plants of the field are taken for human consumption. The plants were then transported , often in sacks or baskets, but sometimes also in jars, from the field to a house or processing installation.
The crops were then prepared for conservation. Grain was threshed, winnowed and sieved. Grapes were crushed. Other crops were mashed or pickled. Some fruit was cooked to make syrup.
Important for a seasonal agrarian economy was food storage. The food was kept in jars, in baskets, in silos, or in storage rooms. It was always important to keep the food from rotting, from being eaten by insects or rodents, and also from theft.
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Food then had to be prepared, usually done by cooking. That includes baking. The most important part of the diet in Ancient Israel was bread. The stored grain was regularly ground to flour and quickly used to bake bread in tannur ovens. Cooking pots were often used to prepare stews and other dishes.
Finally, the food was served at a meal. This often involved the presentation and arrangement of food.
While this is a simple pattern, it helps to fit the various activities, and therefore the different archaeological finds, into their context.

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