ancient food

7 Ancient Foods Still Consumed Today

Some of the most delicious and widely consumed food today can be traced back several millennia. Why is that? More often than not, recipes are lost with civilizations, and as food evolves, they are phased out. But some remain and have stood the test of time for thousands of years. Here are seven ancient foods still consumed today.

Ancient Foods Still Consumed Today

1. Tamales

This Mesoamerican bundle of deliciousness dates all the way back to 8,000 BC. Ancient Olmecs who predate the Toltecs and Mayans created tamales as a practicality. At the time, the Olmecs were nomadic peoples who were constantly on the move due to hunts, resettlements or war. They needed something that would be easy to prepare and carry; thus tamales were invented.

This stopped them from lugging so much food around that would need to be prepared on the spot. Instead, they could batch make tamales and carry with them wherever they go.

2. Pancakes

All across the world, pancakes are seen as a delicious breakfast food. Sweet or savoury, fluffy or thin, either way, they are delicious. The origin of these tasty treats can be traced back to a man named Otzi the Iceman. Otzi the Iceman was alive during 3,300 BC, and later he became the oldest mummified corpse in all of Europe. Upon discovery of his body, they found that his last meal consisted of wheat pancakes.

This later led to the discovery that ancient Greeks ate pancakes and served them with curdled milk or honey. Much like today, they were often eaten for breakfast and cooked in a circular frying pan.

3. Chocolate

We know that chocolate can be traced at least as far back as early Aztec times in modern-day Mexico. The Aztecs created a bitter drink made from brewed cocoa beans known as “xocoatl.” They didn’t realise it at the time, but they were effectively creating the first hot chocolate and inspiring a whole new age of chocolate sweets, cocoa harvesting, and so much more.

Other studies show that eating chocolate may date back at least 4,000 years to the Olmecs who came long before Aztecs. Either way, we are thankful.

ancient food

4. Popcorn

Popcorn aka everyone’s favourite snack that’s smothered in butter and enjoyed with a movie. But did you know it’s also ancient as can be? Humans have been heating and thus popping corn kernels for 9,000 years. Thanks to some archaeology sites in Mexico, it’s evident that humans have been onto the secret of delicious popcorn for ages.

ancient food

5. Cheesecake

This sweet, mildly tart chilled treat has been enjoyed since ancient times. Its roots go back to Samos, a Greek island that’s been inhabited for more than 5,000 years. While it’s not clear on the exact time the Greeks starting making them, we know that it was served as a dessert to athletes in the first Olympic games of 776 BC. The ancient Greeks kept it simple with just a mix of honey, flour and soft cheese.

ancient food

6. Kheer

This deliciously rich, thick and creamy Indian dessert can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Originating in Puri around 400 BC, kheer consisted of mulled rice, sweetened milk and ghee. In the mix, you’ll find loads of aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s no wonder this creamy treat has stuck around so long.

ancient food

7. Bread

Sourdough, rye, toasted, airy, any way you put it bread is tasty. Turns out, humans have known this for quite some time. These carby loaves of doughy goodness date back at least 30,000 years near the last ice age. Which basically means one day, a caveman had the novel idea to combine milled wheat and water and heat it over an open fire. But in all seriousness, bread started out as a firm flatbread 30,000 years ago and has evolved ever since.

It wasn’t until 300 BC that Egyptians started experimenting with leavening the dough to create light and fluffy loaves. 2,300 years later, we enjoy it all the same with only a few differences, such as the addition of enrichments like yoghurt and eggs in some breads.

ancient food

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Melanie Hamilton
Melanie Hamilton

Melanie is an avid traveller with a passion for history and global foods. She is currently based in Tbilisi, Georgia where most of her time is occupied with qvevri wine and Soviet history. Having do-si-do'd her way across Europe and Latin America, she's enjoyed some of the world's most exciting places firsthand and can't wait to tell you about them.

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