Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals
The early Eucharist has usually been seen as sacramental eating of token bread and wine in careful or even slavish imitation of Jesus and his earliest disciples. In fact the evidence suggests great diversity in its conduct, including the use of foods, in the first few hundred years. Eucharistic meals involving cheese, milk, salt, oil, and vegetables are attested, and some have argued that even fish was used. The most significant exception to using bread and wine,
however, was a `bread-and-water' Christian meal, an ancient ascetic form of the Eucharist. This tradition also involved rejection of meat from general diet, and reflected the concern of dissident
communities to avoid the cuisine - meat and wine - characteristic of pagan sacrifice. This study describes and discusses these practices fully for the first time, and provides important new insights into the liturgical and social history of early Christianity.