Cooking is now quite a challenge for me. Oxygen and flames don’t mix. This means being organized. Assemble everything beforehand, turn off the oxygen and light the gas. That is what I was doing earlier this week, a bit miffed that I could no longer multi-task and continue my preparations while the gas burner was lit.
As I was working, I was thinking.
Cooking a curry
Now – I buy ground spices. (I used to have a small grinder, but now I buy the spices.)
Then – In my mother’s day, I don’t remember eating a curry, but if curry flavoring was needed, this is what was on option.
Way before then – I doubt the Biblical cooks made curries, but they certainly made spicy meals.
They would have had to walk to the market, buy what they wanted, bring it home and grind it… probably with a hand mill. Spices were expensive so only a small quantity at a time would be bought.
Growing up in the cold climate of Scotland, my meals as a child were starchy. Bread, bread rolls (they were a treat) and potato soup. (It was made with root vegetables, primarily potatoes.)
(Now, if I am able to keep the oxygen off, there are a lot more options.)
Cooking way before then
I did a great deal of research about this so that my books were as accurate as possible. Primarily, people of the New Testament ate vegetables, usually cooked in a stew, and often flavored with spices.
Most people probably ate meat only a few times a year, generally when animals were slaughtered for religious sacrifices, weddings or other special family celebrations or visits.
(In Hold the Faith, the celebratory meal after Benjamin’s baptism was chicken. What was left over was added to the next day’s vegetable stew.)
Cleaning and preparing the vegetables.
They were washed, but homes back then did not have indoor taps. Water had to be fetched from a well, so people would have been ‘water-wise.’
When vegetables were cleaned, they were cut, or chopped and put in a clay pot. Meals were generally cooked in clay pots in either clay ovens, or ovens made from earth. The most common way of cooking food was by boiling.
Cooking was time consuming
Bread was a staple food.
It took possibly 2-3 hours of hard labor every day to make enough to feed a family with five. (In Hold the Faith there were six adults living in the home.)
Once the dough was made, it was cooked in different ways. One way was to cook it on the hot stones of a cooking fire. Then there was the ‘jar’ oven.’ This was a huge clay pot that was smaller at the opening in the top; a fire was started on the inside to get it hot, and the dough was put against the outer part to cook. The pit-oven was a pottery lined hole in the ground that was heated with a fire that was put aside, and the dough was baked on top of the hot clay.
So, by the time I pondered all of this, I realized how blessed I am. I have a gas cooker, a refrigerator and a freezer. I also have a microwave.
All of these, plus a telephone (even a land-line one) would have been very useful to warn of unexpected guests being brought home. (Again, as happened in Hold the Faith, and other books in the series.)
Hold the Faith is the first in a series of five Christian, historical fiction novels. They are set in the late 1st century AD and are followed by four novellas, (only three finished.) The novellas follow the lives of some of the ‘side’ characters.
I am asking people to buy, or recommend these books as I am currently fundraising for a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. Please ignore the Amazon review status. Many of my reviews have fallen victim to the unknown bot that Amazon uses to remove what they consider reviews from friends, family, or purchased reviews. Some people who have told me their reviews have been removed, I have never met, nor am I likely to meet them. Still, I think even Amazon does not know how this algorithm of theirs works.
Link to the fund-raising page, so that you may read about my current setup and my goal.