Egyptian Food Lesson for Kids: Facts & History

Instructor: Sara Clarke-Vivier

Sara is a recently graduated PhD in Education with interdisciplinary experience in K-12 education.

What does a river have to do with Egyptian food? In this lesson, we will explore Egyptian food from ancient times to today by learning about the Nile River and Egyptian agriculture.

Eat in Egypt!

Close your eyes and imagine Egypt. You may see pyramids, mummies, maybe even ancient gods. You will likely imagine hot, dry deserts full of sand dunes. You might be surprised to know that, despite all that sand, ancient Egypt was actually a wonderful place to grow food! Because the civilization grew up around the fertile Nile River, ancient Egyptians could grow a wide array of crops. Egyptians today still grow their own food in Egyptian soil.

Let's explore Egypt's food, then and now!

Ancient Times

The Nile River, which runs through Egypt, is important to understanding Egyptian food. Every year the river flooded, running over its banks and onto the flat desert land surrounding it. This flooding happened between June and September throughout human history, right up until a dam was built on the Nile in the 1960s. After the flood waters receded, the river left behind silt, the rich, dark soil from the river bottom. This silt was ideal for planting crops.

A Painting of Ancient Egyptian Food
A Painting of Egyptian Food

Grains

Ancient Egyptians grew many cereal crops, such as barley, wheat, and farro (emmer). They turned these cereals into bread and cakes to eat and beer to drink. These grain-based foods were important staple, or main, foods for both rich and poor Egyptians.

Fruits and Vegetables

Rich Nile soil was a suitable place to grow fruits and vegetables. Ancient Egyptian diets included onions, garlic, leeks, lettuce, and cucumbers, many foods that you might find in your salad at dinner tonight.

Fruits like grapes, figs, and dates were also important Egyptian foods. These particular fruits are staples of many north African and Middle Eastern diets.

Proteins

Beans and lentils, vegetable-based sources of protein, also grew well in Egyptian soil. Hunters would harvest wild birds and local wild animals, such as hippos, gazelles, and even hedgehogs! Fishermen would fish the Nile River. Farmers would also raise cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs, and bees as sources of food. Raising meat on farms was very expensive, so only the wealthiest Egyptians ate a lot of this kind of food.

Egypt Today

A Modern Egyptian Lunch
Egyptian Lunch

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