Drinking up History.. literally

by Lisa Donovan

I was mosying around a few websites looking for some interesting recipes this morning and came across an interesting archeaological find. Apparently some of the earliest recipes found, on cave walls and the like, were for beer.

That’s right, most of these recipes are for beer. In his book A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Tom Standage, technology editor of the Economist, estimates that beer was actually created sometime around 10,000 BC, predating civilization itself, and was probably the first complex chemical process refined and recorded by man. As homo sapiens moved away from hunting and gathering food — and toward the first attempts at organized agriculture — it was discovered that storing surplus grains in the earth or earthen pots could help stave off hunger in fallow times. But early storage methods were far from perfect: Water and heat would leak in, and the grains would soon begin to ferment. The resulting gruel was probably not very tasty, but its intoxicating effect would certainly have been noticed, and it was eventually highly prized. Thus it is found in the Sumerian epics of Gilgamesh, where it is served to a savage in order to civilize him, and the Hymn to Ninkasi, which details its production in verse. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it is even valued as an elixir with various mystical properties.

The most interesting part about this is that Kirin, a Japanese beer maker, is making an Old Kingdom beer that will follow the recipe from the tomb of Amenhotep II’s royal steward.

This is one of those quirky little facts that make me love human beings.. We’re such an odd species, no?

Bottoms up!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2006 at 8:21 am and is filed under Cooking, Daily Living. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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