Interdisciplinary team cooks 4000-year old Babylonian stews at NYU event

Interdisciplinary team cooks 4000-year old Babylonian stews at NYU event


This is a 3D print of the culinary tablets the three recipes that we’re cooking today are derived from. They come from the Babylonian culinary recipes that are in the Yale Babylonian collection. Almost 4000 years old, these are the oldest recipes ever found. They asked me if I have the recipes, but I should have been like, “well yeah I do. I have the recipes right here guys. You ready?” We have chosen three recipes that come from one tablet and today will be the first time that we’re trying the unwinding recipe. That’s the vegetarian one. It’s really unclear why it is called unwinding. The word in the beginning of the recipe could have different interpretations. And one of them is similar to unwinding a knot. And so it’s thought that maybe this recipe is something that you would create to enjoy, sort of relax. “Oh my God, that’s so hot.”. It’s a vegetarian stew based on leek and onion. There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for this name. We honestly, we don’t know. One of the recipes, Tuh’i, has red beets. Kind of a proto-Borscht. This is a Leaning Tower of Beets-a. It has a really nice sort of earthy taste. Not something that I would have ever imagined would be in Babylonian cooking. The third recipe, broth of lamb, is milk-based with some lamb. I don’t like that one. Honestly, during the process of cooking, I did not think it looked very appetizing. Really, I just thought I’m not even gonna taste this. I didn’t like that one as much because the lamb is at the forefront of the flavor instead of the variety of flavors in the Tuh’i. But after it had cooked and simmered, the sauce sort of thickened, and… I don’t know it just transformed into something that was sophisticated, lots of different flavors. Surprisingly good. Cooking and eating and using our senses, it’s such a basic human experience and I think it gives a very, like a profound sense of deep history. To taste the flavors that were prominent then and popular then, and to think that the tools we’re aided by make it so much easier than it was for them, you feel closer to the the culture and the people. That’s one of the reasons that we really went into this project. Maybe not entirely as they would have prepared it, maybe our ingredients taste a little bit different. That’s OK. I like that. I like it better than lamb broth. But still, approximating something that nobody has tasted for almost 4000 years.

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