Alcoholic drinks (mashkeh charif) and liquor were not uncommon in Talmudic times. Although there is discussion in the Jewish sources about the production and enjoyment of beer and alcoholic fruit drinks, drunkenness is heavily discouraged.
Bread (lechem) is considered the main staple of the Jewish people. There are many laws defining how it is made and eaten, and bread is the only food that, when consumed, requires the full Grace After Meals (Birkat HaMazon).
Although challah today is simply known as the braided loaf of bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, its origins are in the Biblical commandment to separate a portion of dough — known as challah — that would then be given to the priest (kohen).
Flour (kemach) appears in Rabbinic discussions because of its importance in the production of bread and in Temple offerings. Flour is also used as a metaphor for earning a wage: “If there is no flour, there is no Torah. if there is no Torah, there is no flour” (Pirkei Avot 3:17).
Fruit (p’ri) plays a central role in Judaism, from the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden to the seven species — which includes grapes, figs, and pomegranates — brought as first fruit (bikkurim) offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.
In the Bible, the word devash (honey) typically refers to date or fig honey, and Israel is often referred to as a "land flowing with milk and honey.” In modern times, devash is more commonly used to refer to honey made by bees.
There is much debate in the Talmud about eating kitniyot on Passover. Generally translated as “legumes,” kitniyot includes rice, corn, sesame, and more. Jews are forbidden from eating leavened foods on Passover, but most Ashkenazi communities also forbid kitniyot.
Maror refers to the bitter herbs — usually horseradish or romaine lettuce — eaten by Jews on Passover as commanded in the Bible: “with bitter herbs they shall eat it” (Exodus 12:8). Maror symbolizes and serves as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery and oppression in Egypt.
Matzah is the unleavened bread made from any of the five grains mentioned in Torah: wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and oats. In the Torah, Jews were commanded by God to eat matzah before leaving Egypt and today are obligated to eat matzah during the Passover Seder.
There is a lot of discussion in the Jewish sources about eating meat (basar), focusing largely on the laws for ensuring that meat is made kosher, or fit. In regards to mixing meat and milk, there is discussion about whether or not chicken and fish should be categorized as meat.
In the Jewish sources, milk (chalav) is discussed generally but also in relation to the laws prohibiting the mixing meat and milk and in the description of Israel as a "land flowing with milk and honey."
In the Bible, there are many uses for olives (zeitim) and their oil, from eating to anointing. The importance of olive oil’s role in the Temple in Jerusalem gave olives even more distinction, making the olive tree one of the most vital plants in ancient Israel.
Pepper (pilpel) was well-known during Talmudic times and the word referred to both black peppercorns and the long pepper found in India today. In the Talmud (Berakhot 36), there is a lengthy discussion about the blessing to make on the Indian long pepper.
Planting (shtila) was — and remains — a central feature of the yearly cycle upon which Judaism and Israel are built. In ancient Israel, crops had to be planted at a specific time in order to be tithed at the Temple at the right time in the calendar.
Although the Bible has no specific word for “spices,” the Talmud uses the term tavlin for these appetite-stimulating and food-improving additions, which were also used in the Temple service for the incense offering.
According to the Talmud, from Adam to Noah humans practiced vegetarianism (tzimchonut). In the Jewish sources, God's eventual permission to eat meat is often seen as nothing more than an ethical compromise and Jewish law restricts the type and way that meat is eaten.
Wine (yayin) is widely discussed in Biblical and Rabbinic sources, with the focus being on its enjoyment as well as its potential for abuse. On Shabbat — and Jewish holidays — special prayers are said over wine in order to fulfill the Biblical commandment of sanctifying the day.