Babylon, Egypt, Middle Ages, and after, Qualities, How to prepare, Umbilical Cord, Recipe 1

The chemical analysis from remains found in a jar unearthed at an Iranian neolithic site dating to 5 000 years before J.C. revealed a few drinks of beer.

Babylon and beer  The creation poem, Enouma Elish, offers up a description of gods, banqueting and drinking beer. This beverage was also offered when gods visited one another. People brought meat, bread cake, milk and beer to the temple as offerings. In this society, banquets had a social function, the natural closing of a contract. After eating together, to show the strength of the contract: « We have eaten bread, we have drunk beer and we have anointed with oil » according to a document from 3rd millennium. According the law of King Hammourabi, the punishment for a priestess found drinking forbidden beer was beer was to be burned. In payment of the beer they served, publicans had to accept barley and not money, or they would be thrown in the river, dictated this same law. However, if they had given a beer jug on credit, they could ask, at harvest time, for 50 liters of barley.

Beer and wine were served at royal banquets in Mesopotamia, but the beer was a fermented mixture of barley and dates. In the King’s palace, the «Great Cup-bearer» was responsible for beer. He had to take care of everything which had to do with it, including the quantity, which was not negligible: King Assurnasirpal II gave a difficult-to-imagine banquet: 10 days long, for 69,574 people and thousands and thousands of jugs of beer (among other things) were served.

Ancient Egypt and beer  In the Westcar papyrus is written the description of Gedi, the magician, He’s 110 years old, and he eats 500 large round loaves with an half a cow. Each day he drinks 100 jugs of beer and so, he feels very well, sleeps well and doesn’t cough. We find beer, and bread, poultry, beef meat in funeral prayers asking for food. Archeological discoveries confirm that barley was cultivate in the Nile delta at least 4,000 years before J.C. and used to make beer. This beer was very strong. It was made from large round barley or wheat loaves, undercooked to preserve the fermentation enzymes and left to ferment in water and crushed wheat. The obtained liquid was filtered and set to repose in cooked earth jar. Egyptian liked blonde and brown beers. Certain writings mention Syrian beer, of which historians know very little.

Like wine, beer was stored in amphora and jars, decorated with garlands, but these beverage were strained before serving because of the residue.

Middle Ages and beer  The most important beverages in the Middle Ages is wine and beer, or rather, cervoise – barley-beer, which doesn’t much resemble the beer we know today. Beer is a proper symbol of the German culture. It is used in pagan rites demarking the difference with Christians and their sacred wine. Little by little, during this time, wine finds competition from hard cider, hydromel and beer, but the later takes some time to become a prestigious drink.

As public lodgings developed, laws were written to regulate the food professions. The practice by tavern-keepers of spicing soured wines and beers in order to sell them was outlawed.

And after  Europe can be divided into two parts. There is North and East, where wine is not considered just cheap calories, but a prestige beverage. Because beer contains less alcohol than wine, it was more widely drunk. The mayor of Sélestat (Alsatia, France) deplored this in the beginning of the Empire about 1805: « Since wine is expensive, people drink more and more beer, every year, there’s more breweries, and barley, instead of nourishing people, is used to give them drink ». From the 16th and the 17th centuries, hop appears in beer and beer becomes a semi-manufactured product, prepared by specialized makers in breweries. Barley-beer without hop stays only in the British Islands, until 18th century, under the name of « ale« . It was not possible to conserve it, so it was home made and quickly drunk.

Beer’s qualities
Manufactured beer  
It contains colorants, additives to fix the foam, chlorhydric or sulfuric acid to make it less bitter, and it is pasteurized to conserve it. Its taste is always the same, computer-controlled, because the drinker wants to always find the same taste.

Natural beer  Its taste is different, depending upon the brewing. It’s made in small quantities. It’s taste, it’s foam, its color always change.

Organic beer  It’s made with organic malt or hop or spelt, water filtered of its impurities. It can be bitterer than manufactured beer because it is not chemically controlled.

Beer from far away  Rice beer from China, mil, green banana from Africa.

Home made beer macerating water, malted barley, sugar, hop, salt and what ever your imagination tells you to give it an inimitable taste….

How to prepare beer  Basic ingredients are malt, water, yeast and hop flowers. There are three stages: malting, brewing then fermentingBarley seeds begin to germinate, then the germination is stopped and the seeds become malt, thus the name of this first step (malting). Seeds are then crushed and the resulting flour is mixed with water, then brewed. It becomes must, a kind of sugared juice, which is then filtered, sterilized, flavored, then fermented once or several times.

Umbilical Cord. Sometimes, beer is prepared with unusual ingredients. In the Baganda tribe of Africa, after a child’s birth, the mother wrapped the placenta in banana tree leaves and put it on the ground, at the foot of this tree. Regularly, she added the baby’s secretions. When the fruit was ripe, the paternal grandmother of the baby cut the fruit and prepared some beer with it. This beverage was offered during the holy meal, which was shared with all the relatives on the father’s side of the family.

Recipe 1  Choose your favorite long chair or sofa or go to the finely sandy strand or the field with comfortable grass waiting for you with such insistence. Get comfortable. Now, open it, this small, unpretentious book, and spend some pleasant time with it. If don’t understand French very well, don’t worry; it’s vocabulary isn’t difficult. You’ll understand it, also it will give you an interesting view of the French way of life, almost a study of the civilization. « The first gulp of beer and other very small pleasures - La première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules » by Philippe Delerm. You can read it without drinking anything or drinking any drink, your favorite beer, coming from Belgium or somewhere else. Good reading!