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Hanukkah projects – Jewish holidays

By |2018-04-09T23:07:29+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Potato latkes cooked in oil are a traditional Hanukkah food Hanukkah is first and foremost a holiday about olive oil, so a good way to get to know Hanukkah better is to fry some kind of food in olive oil. Usually people make latkes, or grated vegetable pancakes. Here's a super-healthy recipe for latkes that [...]

European food history – Renaissance to today

By |2018-04-20T00:13:50+00:00August 4th, 2017|Food, Modern Europe|

European food history: An early chocolate house Trade brings new foods During the 1500s and 1600s AD, European traders brought back all kinds of new foods from places they sailed to around the world. Rich people began to eat sugar and ginger from India. (Combining these two new foods together gave us the gingerbread man). Chocolate, coffee, and tea They [...]

Medieval food with recipes – European food in the Middle Ages

By |2018-10-06T20:22:59+00:00August 1st, 2017|Food, Medieval|

Medieval food: A man ladles porridge from a large pot over a fire Poor people's food was boring! In the Middle Ages in Europe, what people ate depended a lot on how rich they were. Poor people (which was almost everybody) ate mainly barley, or in some places oats. What's barley like? All about the history of [...]

The Yamnaya and the Indo-European language family

By |2018-04-21T13:20:00+00:00July 27th, 2017|Central Asia, History|

Yamnaya get around: Map of the spread of Indo-European languages Who were the Yamnaya? People we call the Yamnaya (Ukrainian for "People who lived in pits") seem to have been speaking an early version of the Indo-European language at least as early as 5000 BC in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian [...]

Medieval Islamic science

By |2018-04-24T08:21:20+00:00July 27th, 2017|Islam, Science|

Al Tusi's diagram of linear motion from circular motion In the Early Middle Ages, before the formation of the Islamic Empire, Buddhists ran the world's biggest universities. One was in India, at Nalanda. Another was in what is now Pakistan, at Taxila. In Egypt, the University of Alexandria was still an important center of learning, too. Most serious scholars went to [...]

Medieval Islamic food

By |2017-07-23T17:01:31+00:00July 23rd, 2017|Food, Islam|

Orange tree Around the Mediterranean, people continued in the Islamic period to rely on the three main foods from antiquity. Those were wheat (mostly bread), olive oil, and wine. Though technically Islam did not let you drink alcohol, still a lot of people did drink wine. People who didn't drink wine started to drink more tea. The Sogdians brought tea to the Islamic [...]

Medieval Islamic economy – The Silk Road

By |2017-07-23T16:24:26+00:00July 23rd, 2017|Economy, Islam|

Turkomen on the Silk Road with camels Just like under Persian or Sassanian rule, the economy of West Asia during the Islamic period depended very heavily on trade. The Silk Road ran right across the Islamic Empire. It reached east from China, to Tajikistan, to Uzbekistan, to Iran, to Iraq and Syria. Then it ran west to Lebanon, to the Byzantine Empire, and across the Mediterranean to Italy. Arab [...]

Indian food history – spices and sugar in ancient India

By |2018-11-05T16:07:15+00:00July 20th, 2017|Food, India|

Indian food: rice, chapatis, sauces, lentils What did people eat in ancient India? The earliest Indians, the Harappans, probably ate mainly wheat and rice, millet and sorghum, chickpeas and lentils. Often they ate fish, if they lived near the coast or a river. Sometimes they ate beef, pork, lamb and goat meat, and chicken. Why chickpeas get ripe in the summer Where does chicken come from? Lots more [...]

Where do carrots come from? Central Asian food

By |2018-04-19T14:54:20+00:00June 20th, 2017|Central Asia, Food|

History of carrots: Wild carrots (Queen Anne's Lace) Carrots are from Central Asia Wild carrots probably evolved with the other flowering plants, about 360 million years ago in the Cretaceous period. Like apples, carrots are native to Central Asia, where there are many kinds of wild carrot. That's why horses, which come from [...]

Food in ancient China – rice and tea

By |2018-05-27T14:21:06+00:00June 6th, 2017|China, Food|

Chinese food Chinese food: rice When you think of Chinese food you think of rice, and rice was the first grain that people farmed in China. There is archaeological evidence of rice farming along the Yang-tse River by about 6000 BC. (Read more about the history of rice) People cooked rice by boiling [...]