A History of Ethiopian Food

The ancient people of pre-Aksumite, pre-Christian cultures like Punt and D'MT left no records of what they ate, and what we know of these cultures comes mostly from the writings of the more advanced cultures that encountered them.

In the fourth millennium B.C., agriculture began to emerge in the fertile highlands of what is now western Eritrea and the Sudan. It then spread to the lowlands and eventually the plateau. These proto-Ethiopians grew sorghum, and by the end of the millennium, they had begun to herd cattle. By the first or second millennium B.C., they ate sorghum, wheat, barley and possibly teff, along with many other grains, vegetables and pulses (lentils, peas, fava beans, chick peas and more).

But the scholars disagree on when Ethiopians began to cultivate each of these crops and, in some cases, how they got to Ethiopia.

Some argue that ancient Ethiopians discovered agriculture on their own; others say they learned it through contact with Egypt and the Arabian peninsula. All we know for sure is that Ethiopians have long cultivated certain things - teff, enset, gesho - that no other culture has cultivated, which strongly points to Ethiopian origins. Whether they did it without help, or learned to farm from others, may never finally be known.

The people of ancient Ethiopia certainly grew things collectively and ate them. The question is what they grew, when they started growing it, and the form in which they ate what they grew. Did these early Ethiopians leave behind any traces of their first recipe books?

> > > > Read More > > > >

ęCopyright 2010 by Harry Kloman