Dishes That Are Much Older Than We Realized

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Vote up the most surprisingly ancient dishes

Avocado toast, goat cheese, alternative meat dishes - these are all what we'd consider 21st century food trends.

But did you know the bases of these dishes have been around a long time? In some cases, thousands of years? 

Our ancient human ancestors were no different from us in wanting tasty dishes, so they created some of the staple recipes that we take for granted today. From pancakes to pot pie to popcorn, different people in various pockets of the world were responsible for creating (or stumbling upon) some of our favorite foods today. 

So which food do you think will be the oldest? Read on to find out. 


  • One of the all-time breakfast greats has a history far older than the boxed mixes that we're accustomed to today. 

    We can thank Otzi the Iceman for helping us pinpoint the age of this dish. Otzi the Iceman is a world-famous Copper Age mummy, who created quite a stir when he was found in the Italian Alps in 1991. Despite living roughly 5,300 years ago, Otzi's body was incredibly well-preserved by the ice and snow in the mountains - so much that the hikers who discovered him had thought he was an unlucky hiker who had recently perished. 

    When searching his stomach cavities, archaeologists discovered that one of his last meals included red meat and einkorn wheat pancakes. Scientists believe the wheat was in fact prepared in the form of pancakes due to the charcoal that was still on them - suggesting that they were cooked over a fire.  

  • Noodles - 4,000 years
    Photo: Rajeeb Dutta / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    The perfect noodle is an art in itself. And it seems that the Chinese can hold the title for introducing noodles to the world. 

    In fact, China holds the record for both the oldest physical noodles to be found and the first written description of noodles. 

    The first written account of noodles dates back almost 2,000 years during the East Han Dynasty. But the oldest physical noodles were discovered in an overturned bowl at an excavation site. This bowl formed a seal, preserving the precious food inside. 

    And how old are these noodles? Over 4,000 years old

  • Tamales have been a tasty dish for a very, very long time - over 7,000 years. The Aztec and Mayan people both munched on the food. 

    Back in the day, the tamales were made from masa, a dough made from ground corn. The dough was then stuffed with vegetables and meat and wrapped in large leaves or corn husks. The tamales were then steamed until they were at the perfect toasty temperature. 

    Tamales were particularly popular for soldiers, as they were an easy meal to grab and eat on the go. 

    So, overall, tamales seem to have stayed pretty consistent throughout the years. 

  • Let's paint a scene. Imagine a world-class athlete is about to compete in the Olympic finals. What food do you think they'd eat before their race?

    Did cheesecake come to mind?

    No? Well for the ancient Greeks it sure did and they certainly knew a thing or two when it came to fitness

    The Greeks created their recipe for cheesecake over 2,000 years ago, combining mild cheese with flour and honey. They believed this dish provided energy, so they would feed it to their athletes prior to the original Olympic games.

    When the Romans conquered the Greeks, they added their own spin to the dessert by using ricotta and adding eggs to make the cake spongier. 

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    Pot Pie - 3,700 years

    Pot pie today can be enjoyed in many ways, with many varieties - chicken, beef, vegetarian, homemade, and frozen Marie Calendar's.

    But it was first enjoyed over 3,700 years ago in Mesopotamia

    Their pot pies also came in different varieties, though their ingredients could be a little different than ours today. 

    They did include meat from small birds, but they also included the pieces of the poultry we leave out today - like hearts, liver, and gizzards. (But hey, these are full of protein, right?)

    Their sauce was also different - being more on the spicy side rather than the savory we're used to today. 

    All of this was baked in a spiced crust - creating a dish fairly similar to what we love today. 

  • Maize has long been a staple for humanity. So it makes sense that the delectable version of popping said corn became popular.

    While the date of when popcorn originated seems to (strangely) vary widely, it appears to be in the realm of 4,000 years old. We know this from the puffed kernels scientists have found in caves in Mexico. 

    For the Aztec people, popcorn wasn't just a fun treat. They used it for decorations and to embellish outfits, jewelry, and statues of their gods.