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B - 27 : The Persians and the Triumph of Barley

Most of us think of Mediterranean food as a vegetable, fish and olive oil-based diet with plenty of fresh fruit and wine.

Persian Archers from Persepolis, the Persian Empire's Capital


Were we doing our trip 2’500 years ago, it would be rather different. The Persian Empire was based on two great grains: barley and barley.

Thanks to their sophisticated Irrigation Technique in the Iranian Highlands with Miles long underground Tunnels, the Persian were able to grow a large amount of Barley


With a standing army of 300’000 men, a large navy with hundreds of war galleys and four capitals to maintain (Persepolis was just one of them), the Persian Kings of Kings needed huge quantities of staple food. Barley was his choice - durable and storable

Ever tried to buy Barley in a Supermarket today - not that easy - it is not a Mainstream Grain any longer - however BioShops have all the Varieties you wish for

Easy to store and to transport along the Royal Roads, the first long-distance road system ever built in human history, barley did not only serve as food but also as the Empire’s currency. An ordinary soldier would get 30 - 40 pints of barley a month which he then could trade for other goods or fresh food.

In today’s wheat and potatoe dominated world, barley lost it dominance. We find it at the fring of our main stream cuisine in soups (Bündner Gerstensuppe), stews and salads. Less suitable than wheat for making bread, this was precisely how barley was consumed during the time of the Persian Empire - in stews, as porridge or kind of risotto.

Complemented with grilled meat (kebab), fresh vegetables and fruits, these stews and soups provide a rich, full diet. Barley was also used to brew beer, a beverage that was considered more healthy than water due to the disinfecting nature of alcohol. The expensive wine was only consumed by the elites.

We won’t be able to find many local barley dishes during our trip, but we will ask our chef to make barley based salads which are faboulos, yummie summer dishes. Sadly, it contains gluten.

Barley Salad with Roasted Corn, Tomato and Fresh Herbs - Delicious!

Below an article from Julie Thomas which recently appeared in the Huffington Post. Click on the link - you will find 19 wonderful recipes.

Barley Recipes That Will Make You Love This Unsexy Grain Julie R. Thomson Barley isn’t the most sexy grain, but who wants a sexy grain anyway? In the height of winter especially, we want a grain that will warm us like a very unsexy snuggy and nourish us like an even unsexier cup of Jewish penicillin. Barley is wholesome, and we like it that way. Barley is also incredibly versatile. Beer isn’t the only thing this grain has going for it. It holds up well in soups and adds a nice texture and heartiness to salads. Barley also makes a perfect substitute for rice or risottos in most dishes, offering a pleasant nutty flavor. Did we mention it’s also incredibly healthy, too? It’s even been called a superfood. This is a grain you could take home to meet the parents. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/04/barley-recipes_n_1896911.html?guccounter=1

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