Barley, goats’ milk, pomegranates, almonds . . . it sounds like the newest health food craze—and with good reason. The diet of most people in Holy Land during the biblical times was low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in what we now know to be antioxidants.
Historical sources tell us that Jews of the first century—no doubt including Jesus and his disciples—broke their fast in the morning with stone ground bread, perhaps dipped in goat’s milk, or with a handful of fruit. Lunch was another round of bread soaked in watered wine—or parched grain if you were working in the fields—and a few almonds. The main meal was in the evening probably consisted of a stew of vegetables or lentils, more bread, and wine.
Sounds dull? I’d guess it was anything but.
Imagine beans and lentils stewed with onions, garlic, and leeks and flavored liberally with herbs such as anise, coriander, cumin, dill and mint. Olive oil, pressed in the village grove, was drizzled over both the stew and the freshly baked bread served with it.
Fruits—juicy grapes, succulent figs, melons and pomegranates—could have been served with wild honey or goat’s milk thickened into yogurt and topped with almonds or pistachios to turn this meal into a gourmet delight. Add to that fresh or smoked fish from the Sea of Galilee, roasted lamb on feast days, and a robust red wine and you have a gourmet feast.