[Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

As we have pointed out & discussed deeply in our previous  Article Series  titled "தமிழரின் தோற்றுவாய்?[எங்கிருந்து தமிழர்?]Origins of Tamils?[Where are Tamil people from?]" published in, Sumerians were the first culture to quit hunting and gathering food and begin cultivation.Like many other inventions that Sumerian culture gave to the world, they also contributed in farming and food.Sumerian diet mainly consisted of barley.

The raw materials of the Sumerian diet were barley,wheat and millet.Farming yielded vegetables and fruits,chickpeas,lentils,beans,onion,garlic, leeks,cucumbers,cress,mustard and fresh green lettuce was all part of the early Sumerian food.Sumerians were the first culture to settle down and leave the earlier nomad lifestyle.With settlement they began domesticating animals for food and labor.Goat's milk and meat,eggs,pig;wild fowl,deer and venison were an integral part of the Sumerian's food as well.By the time Sumer was succeeded by Babylon a special delicacy had been discovered that was dispatched to the royal palace by the basketful,Truffles,may be desert truffles.

Everyday meals probably consisted of barley paste or barley cake,accompanied by onions or a handful of beans and washed down with barley ale.Fish that swarmed in the rivers of Mesopotamia were a major food source too.Over fifty different types of fish are mentioned in texts dating before 2300 BC,and although the number of types had diminished in Babylonian times,the fried-fish vendors still did a thriving trade in the narrow,winding streets of Ur.Onions,cucumbers,freshly grilled goat,mutton and pork were available from food stalls.Pork not yet taboo in the Near East!,However,all of this began to change very rapidly in a variety of communities around the region starting roughly 1000 BC.Around this time, in ancient Egypt,pigs acquired a reputation for being unclean,a
view that seems to have stuck through modern day.While lower castes of Egyptian society were not prohibited from eating pork,it was discouraged,and the priestly caste was forbidden from it entirely.Slightly later,from roughly 500 BC to the time of the founding of Islam,pork was an uncommon meat in the Middle East.Also Various Jewish and Christian sects too still adhere to this rule.Meat was commoner in the cities than in the more thinly populated countryside,since it spoiled so quickly in the heat.Further,Cattle were only slaughtered for consumption when they were nearly at the end of their working lives-certainly more common was mutton.

Information about Sumerian food can be gathered from archaeology and written records on cuneiform tablets including bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian word lists.These sources also indicated the importance of barley bread,of which many kinds are named,and barley and wheat cakes, as the staple diet together with grain and legume soups,onion,leeks,garlic and melon. Besides farmed vegetables,Sumerian food also included fruits.These were apples,fig and grapes.Several culinary herbs and honey and cheese,butter and vegetable oil have also been mentioned in later Sumerian food records.Sumerians drank beer often and sometimes wine too.Many types of preserved food were produced in ancient Sumer.These included dried figs and apples,which were thread on string,hanging on the wall and also fruits conserved in honey.Pulses such as beans,peas,and lentils were also dried,as were grapes to produce raisins.Nuts too,such as almonds and pistachio that were eaten in Sumer can be kept a long time in dry conditions as can garlic. Milk,because it did not keep well in the hot climate,was mainly used to make yogurt,or a form of butter known as ghee and cheese.Fish were often dried,salted, or smoked and meat was pickled.Beer was often drunk through a reed from a communal pot,or using a silver straw if you were wealthy.Wine was also produced from grapes,in addition to the alcoholic beverages produced from figs and dates.Onions and leeks and garlic were amongst the most frequently cultivated plants.They were grown in the gardens of King Merodach Baladan II of Babylon, and Ur-Nammu of Ur (2100 BC).



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