If Carlsberg Did Fashion

Culinary roman


My story continues …

Firstly, the year is 55 AD so we invaded the territory known to us as Britannia just twelve years ago. It may be a good starting point to give an insight of how the Roman Empire thinks about food supply on a military scale. After all, as well as Rome herself, we have other territories under our control and food logistics is probably the number one priority. So ask yourself, why did we invade your territory? Did food come into your thinking at all, no I didn’t think so…

Ok, so like I said, we successfully invaded Britannia in 43AD by order of the Emperor Claudius and for you Roman Britain began. At this time in our history, our empire had a lot of mouths to feed, more people lived in towns and less in the country. Less in the country to grow crops and farm. So we looked at new opportunities to conquer on the fringes of our empire and Britannia had corn

We also knew about gold and silver which was being mined; our Roman coins are made of silver and this is how we pay our armies, and gold is hard to come by in most places. Additionally we knew about tin, lead and wool, three items we use a lot in our every day life.

You must appreciate also that our success has been built on a slave economy, so one major factor in the expedition to Britannia was to capture a new source for the supply of slaves. Our military is the best in the known world, our armies are hardy and experienced, well fed and clothed. Britannia promised food, metals and textiles for us.

Roman Soldiers

One of the largest problems with maintaining a large standing army is the food supply. The Roman army was noexception. Each soldier ate about 1/3 of a tome of grain a year. It is estimated that just the soldiers in Britain ar=te over 33.5 tons of grain a day. A soldier marched with at least a good supply of bacon, hard tack biscuits, and sour wine. An army was often accompanied by a herd of cattle.

While the soldiers were on long campaigns, such as Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, the supplies would run low and the army would take from anyone it passed.

When on station the soldiers ate much better. They always maintained their herd of cattle sometimes herding other animals such as sheep and goats. They grew grain and other crops including vegetables. A unit in Corbridge is known to have eaten hares, deer, foxes, badgers, beavers, voles, wild oxen and moles while one in Benwell ate fresh-water mussles and a unit in Valkenburg ate chicken, duck, herons, spoonbills, mallards, teals, geese, cranes and crows.

Much of the information about a soldier’s diet comes from letters describing food which was being sent by friends and family.

 

• A Roman Soldier was known as a legionary.

• Roman Soldiers came from all over the Roman Empire. Their job was to defend Rome and fight to conquer new lands.

• Roman Soldiers, once they joined the Roman Army had to serve for twenty-five years.

• Roman Soldiers served in a unit known as a century. A century consisted of around 80 man. If a soldier was promoted to be the leader of a century of soldiers he was known as a Centurion.

• There were 59 centuries of Roman Soldiers in a legion. In total the Roman Army consisted of about 30 legions.

• A Roman soldier’s three main weapons were a short sword for stabbing, called a Gladius, a long iron, throwing spear called a Pilum, and a large rectangular shield.

• Roman Soldiers had to carry their own weapons, food and camping and sleeping equipment. They often had to march up to twenty miles a day carrying all this so it was important that they were strong and fit.

• Roman Soldiers trained together and were prepared for battle. They learned strategies and tactics to enable them to fight together as a single unit.

 





Most food was either boiled or fried in olive oil. Very few homes needed an oven as so little food was roasted. The Romans liked sweet food and drink. One favoured drink was called ‘mulsum’ which was a mixture of boiled wine and honey. This simple recipe describes a sweet food: Take the crusts from a white loaf and break the bread into largish pieces. Soak them in milk. Fry them in hot oil or fat. Pour honey over them and serve.


Bread and water was taken at the start of the day for most Romans. In the wealthier households there would be fruit and honey available to accompany the bread or a wheat pancake. Cheese, olives and raisins were also an option at breakfast. Jentaculum was eaten very early and could be accompanied with milk or wine.

The Pomegranate has a long history and originates from the Meditteranea as well as the Indus Valley and Ancient China. But it is generally accepted to derive from Persia, that being modern Iran today.

The name given to one of the world’s ancient foods, is very Roman. The word ‘pomegranate’ comes from Medieval Latin meaning ‘seeded apple.’ It has been named in ancient texts such as the Book of Exodus in the Torah, the Quran, the Homeric Hymns, and Sumerian texts.

Pomegranate’s are the fruit of a small deciduous tree or large shrub, the Punica granatum of which thgere are many verieties. They are tolerant of drought and moderate frost, growing in climates similar to the Mediterranean, therefore they are ideally suited to Western America where they are increasingly cultivated today.

Pomegranates are a nutritious food source rich in vitamin C, flavinoids and other natural phenols and powerful antioxidants as well as unsaturated oils and fiber. They offer many medicinal benefits, the seeds are good for the heart for example. The seeds are the most desired part of the pomegranate and are consumed raw. The juice can be sweet or sour depending on the variety, and is sweetened and thickened to make grenadine syrup which is a popular ingredient for cocktails.


Prandium (or cibus meridianus)
(lunch – 11.00am)

In pre-imperial times ‘cena’ was the word used for lunch. There were laws on how extravagant meals could be, these were known as Sumtuariae Leges (Sumptuary Laws), and they were intended to limit the amount spent on meals by the rich. The laws fell away during the Imperial period.

Basically, the main of the population, i.e. the poorer, ate a light meal of bread and cereal in the form of porridge for their lunch. This could be supplemented with cheese and eggs, and possibly a little meat. This means most women had a daily chore of making bread flour from grain by grinding the kernels between stones.

By the late Republic period, it is believed that most people bought their bread from commerical bakeries. Three grades of bread were made, and only the rich ate refined white bread.

Grinding was not needed for quicker cooking porridge. A basic and traditional Roman recipe for porridge is: Pour 1/2 pound of clean wheat into a clean bowl, wash well, remove the husk thoroughly, and clean well. Pour into a pot with pure water and boil. When done, add milk slowly until it makes a thick cream.

Roman Historic periods
Regal period
Roman Republic
Imperial Rome/Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire


This was eaten in the late afternoon or early evening. Wealthier people ate much better of course, having meats like pork, chicken, birds, rabbit, hare, and fish. Sometimes a light supper was eaten just before the Romans went to bed, consisting of bread and some fruit.




Puls

Puls – a type of porridge made from wheat and eaten by legionarys, poor people and slaves. It may be just some bread for dinner and that is all. The Romans were usually not big meat eaters and a lot of their normal meals involved vegetables, herbs and spices together with puls.


It was not unknown on special ocassions to eat exotic animals from the conquered territories like giraffe, flamingo, ostrich, and wild boar. The rich Romans enjoyed their food and it was also a way to display high status. Along with the villa came hosted banquets to entertain other prominent Romans and remind them of your wealth.

Hence, elaborate and exotic foods were presented from the conquered territories; like giraffe, flamingo, ostrich, wild boar, and peacock. Mice were also eaten and regarded as a delicacy at parties. The writer Petronius wrote about his eating experiences circa 60 CE.

Baked dormice:
Stuff the dormice with minced pork or the meat of other dormice chopped up with herbs, pepper and pine nuts. Sew up the dormice and cook in a small oven.


Wine was drank throughout the day, usually watered down. For breakfast bread was dipped in wine.

Wine growing was not a priority to the Romans during the Republic years as they were more intent on expanding their dominance on the territories surrounding their homeland peninsula. aLthough Pliny says that in 154 BCE wine production was unsurpassed, it was in the second century BCE with the defeat of the Etruscans and the Samnites, Pyrrhus and the Greeks, Philip of Macedonia and the Carthaginians, Rome controlled the Mediterranean, and there were both the wealth and markets to invest in vineyards.

Whereas a watery wine was consumed in daily practice by Romans, they soon realised that wine unwatered was highly exportable to the territories, particularly Gaul who seemed to guzzle the stuff. This comodity was traded for slaves, whose labour was needed to cultivate estate vineyards. In fact so many citizens were displaced by the growing estates that the population of Rome grew quickly to over one million inhabitants.

Mulsum was wine sweetened with honey mixed in just before drinking, not fermented like mead, and served as an aperitif at the beginning of a meal. Demand grew so that it was more profitable to sell wine locally than to export it. By the first century CE, wine had to be imported from Iberia and Gaul. Mulsum was not always inexpensive, best quality was made of Falernum (produced from Aglianico grapes) which became the most renowned wine produced in ancient Rome.

“The dregs of the wine press should be given to the livestock…”, suggested Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, the Roman soldier who turned to farming and extensive writing on agriculture. “for they contain the strength both of food and of wine and make the cattle sleek and of good cheer and plump.” Grape skins and stalks left in the vat after wine production are soaked in water and re-fermented to produce an inferior bitter drink called ‘lora’. Lora was drank by slaves, soldiers and the poor.


Sauces were popular and served with meals, however they were not too adventurous and were usually made form either vinegar, honey or pepper. Surprisingly they did not call upon recipes discovered through their territorial conquests, but regardlessly they were particularly fond of spicing their food with herbs and spices.

A favourite recipe was ‘garum’, also known as ‘liquamen’, which was similar to the Chinese curry sauce made by the same method of mixing fish waste with salt water and leaving it for several weeks to ferment. It was a highly salty and flavoured sauce base.

 




Roman Farming

Romans used mostly slaves to work in the fields. Slaves were widely available, and they provided cheap labor to work their fields. The fields were plowed with an ard-type plow, which is basically a heavy stick pulled by an ox. Later the Romans did add a coulter to the plow, which would help break up the soil before the plowshare would turn the soil over.

Grain was harvested by hand until the first century A.D. At this time, a reaping machine called a vallusRoman Farmint was invented in Gaul (modern day France) which allowed for an easier harvest. The wheat would be beaten to separate the chaff (outer covering) from the kernels. The beaten wheat were put into winnowing basket and then tossed into the air. The lighter chaff would blow away while the heavy grains would fall back to the basket. The Romans also employed a wooden sled known as a tribulum, which was pulled over the wheat to separate the chaff. They later imported from North Africa a Punic Cart which used a roller type device to press the grain.

After the chaff was removed, the wheat was dried on a drying floor. The wheat was spread on the floor, and a hypocaust, a type of central heating system under the floor, was used. The heating system was similar to that used in the public baths to heat the rooms. The heat dried out the grains, after which they were ready for storage in a granary until it was needed.

Later, the wheat would be ground by large stones. For large amounts of grain, a donkey mill or waterwheel was employed. These would grind large amounts of grain at one time but would also produce course flour that would have to be sifted before being used.

Rome needed a large amount of food to supply its large population. Much of this grain was imported from North Africa, especially Egypt. The Romans had to control the Mediterranean Sea to insure that the needed food supplies were able to flow freely from Africa to Italy.

Besides wheat, two other primary crops were olives and grapes. Olives were squeezed in special presses for oil. The presses were designed not to crush the seeds which would give the oil a sour taste. Olive oil was used in cooking and also as fuel for lamps. Grapes were pressed either by treading on them or with a screw press to be made into wine.

By 100 B.C. most farming was done on large estates. The owners of these estates often lived in town for the majority of the year. A manager, called a vilicus, supervised the farm work on the estate. Another person, the villica, would be in charge of the household. Often the villica and the villicus were slaves. The work on the estates was done in large part by slave laborers. Over ninety percent of the Romans lived and worked in the countryside.



The staple food in Rome was grain. The poor could only afford to eat grain-based food. The Roman state distributed a free grain dole to the poor. Rome imported huge amounts of grain to feed her massive population. Half of this came from Egypt, the breadbasket of the empire. Tunisia, Sicily and Sardinia were the other important suppliers.

More on Roman Food History

 



Ancient Roman Lectus

Romans didn’t sit down at tables to eat their meals. They layed on couches around a low table and ate with their fingers. They did use knives to spear bite sized pieces and spoons to take soups and other liquidy dishes.

Fruit with bread was a staple and taken either for breakfast or last thing at night before bed. When the Romans invaded Britain they introduced many of their fruit and vegetables for the firt time. Olives and figs were the most popular fruits to snack on, on the couch.

The lectus, or couch, was the most important item of Roman style furniture. Used for sleeping, sitting, relaxing or eating. It was a wooden frame supporting criss crossed leather straps that held a matress stuffed, originally with straw, and later with wool or feathers. At one end there was a rolled arm, sometimes an arm at each end.

Ditto



My story continues …

Firstly, the year is 55 AD so we invaded the territory known to us as Britannia just twelve years ago. It may be a good starting point to give an insight of how the Roman Empire thinks about food supply on a military scale. After all, as well as Rome herself, we have other territories under our control and food logistics is probably the number one priority. So ask yourself, why did we invade your territory? Did food come into your thinking at all, no I didn’t think so…

Ok, so like I said, we successfully invaded Britannia in 43AD by order of the Emperor Claudius and for you Roman Britain began. At this time in our history, our empire had a lot of mouths to feed, more people lived in towns and less in the country. Less in the country to grow crops and farm. So we looked at new opportunities to conquer on the fringes of our empire and Britannia had corn

We also knew about gold and silver which was being mined; our Roman coins are made of silver and this is how we pay our armies, and gold is hard to come by in most places. Additionally we knew about tin, lead and wool, three items we use a lot in our every day life.

You must appreciate also that our success has been built on a slave economy, so one major factor in the expedition to Britannia was to capture a new source for the supply of slaves. Our military is the best in the known world, our armies are hardy and experienced, well fed and clothed. Britannia promised food, metals and textiles for us.

Roman Soldiers

One of the largest problems with maintaining a large standing army is the food supply. The Roman army was noexception. Each soldier ate about 1/3 of a tome of grain a year. It is estimated that just the soldiers in Britain ar=te over 33.5 tons of grain a day. A soldier marched with at least a good supply of bacon, hard tack biscuits, and sour wine. An army was often accompanied by a herd of cattle.

While the soldiers were on long campaigns, such as Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, the supplies would run low and the army would take from anyone it passed.

When on station the soldiers ate much better. They always maintained their herd of cattle sometimes herding other animals such as sheep and goats. They grew grain and other crops including vegetables. A unit in Corbridge is known to have eaten hares, deer, foxes, badgers, beavers, voles, wild oxen and moles while one in Benwell ate fresh-water mussles and a unit in Valkenburg ate chicken, duck, herons, spoonbills, mallards, teals, geese, cranes and crows.

Much of the information about a soldier’s diet comes from letters describing food which was being sent by friends and family.

 

• A Roman Soldier was known as a legionary.

• Roman Soldiers came from all over the Roman Empire. Their job was to defend Rome and fight to conquer new lands.

• Roman Soldiers, once they joined the Roman Army had to serve for twenty-five years.

• Roman Soldiers served in a unit known as a century. A century consisted of around 80 man. If a soldier was promoted to be the leader of a century of soldiers he was known as a Centurion.

• There were 59 centuries of Roman Soldiers in a legion. In total the Roman Army consisted of about 30 legions.

• A Roman soldier’s three main weapons were a short sword for stabbing, called a Gladius, a long iron, throwing spear called a Pilum, and a large rectangular shield.

• Roman Soldiers had to carry their own weapons, food and camping and sleeping equipment. They often had to march up to twenty miles a day carrying all this so it was important that they were strong and fit.

• Roman Soldiers trained together and were prepared for battle. They learned strategies and tactics to enable them to fight together as a single unit.

 





Most food was either boiled or fried in olive oil. Very few homes needed an oven as so little food was roasted. The Romans liked sweet food and drink. One favoured drink was called ‘mulsum’ which was a mixture of boiled wine and honey. This simple recipe describes a sweet food: Take the crusts from a white loaf and break the bread into largish pieces. Soak them in milk. Fry them in hot oil or fat. Pour honey over them and serve.


Bread and water was taken at the start of the day for most Romans. In the wealthier households there would be fruit and honey available to accompany the bread or a wheat pancake. Cheese, olives and raisins were also an option at breakfast. Jentaculum was eaten very early and could be accompanied with milk or wine.

The Pomegranate has a long history and originates from the Meditteranea as well as the Indus Valley and Ancient China. But it is generally accepted to derive from Persia, that being modern Iran today.

The name given to one of the world’s ancient foods, is very Roman. The word ‘pomegranate’ comes from Medieval Latin meaning ‘seeded apple.’ It has been named in ancient texts such as the Book of Exodus in the Torah, the Quran, the Homeric Hymns, and Sumerian texts.

Pomegranate’s are the fruit of a small deciduous tree or large shrub, the Punica granatum of which thgere are many verieties. They are tolerant of drought and moderate frost, growing in climates similar to the Mediterranean, therefore they are ideally suited to Western America where they are increasingly cultivated today.

Pomegranates are a nutritious food source rich in vitamin C, flavinoids and other natural phenols and powerful antioxidants as well as unsaturated oils and fiber. They offer many medicinal benefits, the seeds are good for the heart for example. The seeds are the most desired part of the pomegranate and are consumed raw. The juice can be sweet or sour depending on the variety, and is sweetened and thickened to make grenadine syrup which is a popular ingredient for cocktails.


Prandium (or cibus meridianus)
(lunch – 11.00am)

In pre-imperial times ‘cena’ was the word used for lunch. There were laws on how extravagant meals could be, these were known as Sumtuariae Leges (Sumptuary Laws), and they were intended to limit the amount spent on meals by the rich. The laws fell away during the Imperial period.

Basically, the main of the population, i.e. the poorer, ate a light meal of bread and cereal in the form of porridge for their lunch. This could be supplemented with cheese and eggs, and possibly a little meat. This means most women had a daily chore of making bread flour from grain by grinding the kernels between stones.

By the late Republic period, it is believed that most people bought their bread from commerical bakeries. Three grades of bread were made, and only the rich ate refined white bread.

Grinding was not needed for quicker cooking porridge. A basic and traditional Roman recipe for porridge is: Pour 1/2 pound of clean wheat into a clean bowl, wash well, remove the husk thoroughly, and clean well. Pour into a pot with pure water and boil. When done, add milk slowly until it makes a thick cream.

Roman Historic periods
Regal period
Roman Republic
Imperial Rome/Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire


This was eaten in the late afternoon or early evening. Wealthier people ate much better of course, having meats like pork, chicken, birds, rabbit, hare, and fish. Sometimes a light supper was eaten just before the Romans went to bed, consisting of bread and some fruit.




Puls

Puls – a type of porridge made from wheat and eaten by legionarys, poor people and slaves. It may be just some bread for dinner and that is all. The Romans were usually not big meat eaters and a lot of their normal meals involved vegetables, herbs and spices together with puls.


It was not unknown on special ocassions to eat exotic animals from the conquered territories like giraffe, flamingo, ostrich, and wild boar. The rich Romans enjoyed their food and it was also a way to display high status. Along with the villa came hosted banquets to entertain other prominent Romans and remind them of your wealth.

Hence, elaborate and exotic foods were presented from the conquered territories; like giraffe, flamingo, ostrich, wild boar, and peacock. Mice were also eaten and regarded as a delicacy at parties. The writer Petronius wrote about his eating experiences circa 60 CE.

Baked dormice:
Stuff the dormice with minced pork or the meat of other dormice chopped up with herbs, pepper and pine nuts. Sew up the dormice and cook in a small oven.


Wine was drank throughout the day, usually watered down. For breakfast bread was dipped in wine.

Wine growing was not a priority to the Romans during the Republic years as they were more intent on expanding their dominance on the territories surrounding their homeland peninsula. aLthough Pliny says that in 154 BCE wine production was unsurpassed, it was in the second century BCE with the defeat of the Etruscans and the Samnites, Pyrrhus and the Greeks, Philip of Macedonia and the Carthaginians, Rome controlled the Mediterranean, and there were both the wealth and markets to invest in vineyards.

Whereas a watery wine was consumed in daily practice by Romans, they soon realised that wine unwatered was highly exportable to the territories, particularly Gaul who seemed to guzzle the stuff. This comodity was traded for slaves, whose labour was needed to cultivate estate vineyards. In fact so many citizens were displaced by the growing estates that the population of Rome grew quickly to over one million inhabitants.

Mulsum was wine sweetened with honey mixed in just before drinking, not fermented like mead, and served as an aperitif at the beginning of a meal. Demand grew so that it was more profitable to sell wine locally than to export it. By the first century CE, wine had to be imported from Iberia and Gaul. Mulsum was not always inexpensive, best quality was made of Falernum (produced from Aglianico grapes) which became the most renowned wine produced in ancient Rome.

“The dregs of the wine press should be given to the livestock…”, suggested Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, the Roman soldier who turned to farming and extensive writing on agriculture. “for they contain the strength both of food and of wine and make the cattle sleek and of good cheer and plump.” Grape skins and stalks left in the vat after wine production are soaked in water and re-fermented to produce an inferior bitter drink called ‘lora’. Lora was drank by slaves, soldiers and the poor.


Sauces were popular and served with meals, however they were not too adventurous and were usually made form either vinegar, honey or pepper. Surprisingly they did not call upon recipes discovered through their territorial conquests, but regardlessly they were particularly fond of spicing their food with herbs and spices.

A favourite recipe was ‘garum’, also known as ‘liquamen’, which was similar to the Chinese curry sauce made by the same method of mixing fish waste with salt water and leaving it for several weeks to ferment. It was a highly salty and flavoured sauce base.

 




Roman Farming

Romans used mostly slaves to work in the fields. Slaves were widely available, and they provided cheap labor to work their fields. The fields were plowed with an ard-type plow, which is basically a heavy stick pulled by an ox. Later the Romans did add a coulter to the plow, which would help break up the soil before the plowshare would turn the soil over.

Grain was harvested by hand until the first century A.D. At this time, a reaping machine called a vallusRoman Farmint was invented in Gaul (modern day France) which allowed for an easier harvest. The wheat would be beaten to separate the chaff (outer covering) from the kernels. The beaten wheat were put into winnowing basket and then tossed into the air. The lighter chaff would blow away while the heavy grains would fall back to the basket. The Romans also employed a wooden sled known as a tribulum, which was pulled over the wheat to separate the chaff. They later imported from North Africa a Punic Cart which used a roller type device to press the grain.

After the chaff was removed, the wheat was dried on a drying floor. The wheat was spread on the floor, and a hypocaust, a type of central heating system under the floor, was used. The heating system was similar to that used in the public baths to heat the rooms. The heat dried out the grains, after which they were ready for storage in a granary until it was needed.

Later, the wheat would be ground by large stones. For large amounts of grain, a donkey mill or waterwheel was employed. These would grind large amounts of grain at one time but would also produce course flour that would have to be sifted before being used.

Rome needed a large amount of food to supply its large population. Much of this grain was imported from North Africa, especially Egypt. The Romans had to control the Mediterranean Sea to insure that the needed food supplies were able to flow freely from Africa to Italy.

Besides wheat, two other primary crops were olives and grapes. Olives were squeezed in special presses for oil. The presses were designed not to crush the seeds which would give the oil a sour taste. Olive oil was used in cooking and also as fuel for lamps. Grapes were pressed either by treading on them or with a screw press to be made into wine.

By 100 B.C. most farming was done on large estates. The owners of these estates often lived in town for the majority of the year. A manager, called a vilicus, supervised the farm work on the estate. Another person, the villica, would be in charge of the household. Often the villica and the villicus were slaves. The work on the estates was done in large part by slave laborers. Over ninety percent of the Romans lived and worked in the countryside.



The staple food in Rome was grain. The poor could only afford to eat grain-based food. The Roman state distributed a free grain dole to the poor. Rome imported huge amounts of grain to feed her massive population. Half of this came from Egypt, the breadbasket of the empire. Tunisia, Sicily and Sardinia were the other important suppliers.

More on Roman Food History

 



 

Ancient Roman Lectus

Romans didn’t sit down at tables to eat their meals. They layed on couches around a low table and ate with their fingers. They did use knives to spear bite sized pieces and spoons to take soups and other liquidy dishes.

Fruit with bread was a staple and taken either for breakfast or last thing at night before bed. When the Romans invaded Britain they introduced many of their fruit and vegetables for the firt time. Olives and figs were the most popular fruits to snack on, on the couch.

The lectus, or couch, was the most important item of Roman style furniture. Used for sleeping, sitting, relaxing or eating. It was a wooden frame supporting criss crossed leather straps that held a matress stuffed, originally with straw, and later with wool or feathers. At one end there was a rolled arm, sometimes an arm at each end.

ancient roman food

Roman Food History

Article source: romanfood.org

In ancient times, what people eat and how much they eat simply gave an impact on social status of a person has in the community. Wealthy Romans tended to have feast meals every now and then wherein overflowing foods were served. However, Roman republic implemented sumptuary laws that were able to limit the food a wealthy Roman shall eat in every meal. Eventually, the laws were dismissed and no longer a compulsory during the Imperial period.

According to the Roman food history, women that belong to the poor devoted their time in daily activity of grinding grains into flour. Thus, most of the poor Romans eat foods made for cereal grains like bread and porridges. Grinding process is like putting the grains in the middle of concave stones having a small one as roller. With this everyday living, it is believed that most of the poor Romans certainly eat any food made of cereal grain.

Eating for Romans is like taking the lead of a belief that a person must live, enjoy eating and drinking, and be glad to have the life for tomorrow may be the last day. Thus meals despite of the sumptuary law were enjoyed by the poor Romans.

Roman food history predicted that Romans has styles on how they prepare and eat their meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast, as the Romans called it jentaculum, includes bread that is salted, dried fruits, cheese and eggs, and accompanied by either milk or wine. These are the commonly served for breakfast though it is not really required nor shall be eaten all.

The lunch for Roman was called as cibus meridianus or prandium. Normally, foods for lunch are quick meals that are usually served during half time of the day. Roman lunch may include vegetables, fish, salad, cheese, meat, fruits and salted bread.

According to Roman food history, the Roman dinner also known as cena is considered as the main meal of a day. Thus it is a little festive with wine and dinner tradition is quite different from the first two meals. This may be with pancake, meal that has onions and porridges. For members of upper class, Roman dinner may include vegetables, fruits, egg, and meat. The dinner usually ended with wine drinking having Comissatio as a wine used to end the dinner meal.

Meals of the Romans are symbols of their living. Those who can serve various food in a meal can be considered richer than the other.


Roman Food & Drink

Prior to becoming an empire a Roman’s meal is a simple porridge. Early Romans were not big eaters. What the poor and the nobility ate did not differ that much too. However, as their civilization expanded so did the choices of Roman Food and Drink.

An ancient Roman’s staple food

The porridge which was made of a variety of wheat was replaced with bread. Overall, bread became the Roman’s staple food. The quality of bread depended on the quality of the flour which is in turn determined by the kind of grain used, how the millstones were set, and how fine the sifter was. Bread made of wheat flour was available only to the rich. The poor Romans still ate porridge and their bread was made of bran. Loaves were round and a bit flat.

The fruits of Rome

The Romans ate a lot of fruit especially the ones growing in their region. There are several varieties of fruit crops in the Mediterranean regions and Romans then and now eat it. The common produce are olives, dates, the mandarin orange, fruit of the fig tree, and persimmon. There were also a variety of nuts like almond, walnuts, and pistachio.

Carob was very famous in ancient Rome. This is comparable to the cocoa and is also used for chocolate-like flavors. The Carob was introduced to the Romans by the ancient Greeks. In fact, the evolution of the Roman diet was highly influenced by the Greeks whose culinary skills were more advanced than the ancient Romans.

Meat and veggies

The vegetables that Romans ate during ancient times are still being grown and eaten today. They also eat different kinds of meat ranging from game, fowl, and meat from farm animals like beef, lamb, and their most favorite, pork. Meat was exclusive to the rich as they were the only ones who can afford it. However, all Romans eat a lot of fish as well as shellfish.

What Romans drink

Romans never drank beer because it was considered barbaric since the Celts drank it. Romans drank wine. Their wine was always laced with water as it is not in their culture to drink wine straight. Romans drank calda during the winter. This is wine mixed with warm water and laced with spices. The soldiers and slaves had to make do with posca. This is ordinary vinegar diluted with water to make it drinkable.

When Rome became an empire the Romans were exposed to new food varieties and cooking techniques. Knowing the Roman Food and Drink during ancient times is very interesting because this gives modern people the chance to appreciate the evolution of man as a society.

Roman Food Recipes

The rich Romans of ancient times were very famous for their banquets. These banquets lasted for hours serving different courses of meals. Romans love food and they are not averse to eating new and exotic recipes. In fact the Romans liked it better if it was exotic and expensive. A collection of ancient Roman Food Recipes have survived to this day and this is considered to be a historical treasure.

The secret is in the sauce

Ancient Roman cooking was heavy on sauces. The main ingredient of the sauce is the garum or fish sauce. This is very similar to the fish sauce that people of South East Asia use. The garum is mixed with wine, honey, and vinegar to create that sweet, sour, and salty balance. They also used sweet wine for cooking. Another common ingredient in a Roman food is a defrutum which is a fruit syrup thickened like the marmalade or jam we have today. Cooks for the rich Romans are also very liberal with their spices and aromatic herbs.

Making the fish sauce

Among the recipes written in this cookbook about ancient Roman Food Recipes that survived is how to make the fish sauce. This Roman cook wrote that he made sure the fish he used was the fat kind like the sardines. The fish was placed layer by layer adding spices and herbs on every layer for aroma and flavour.

The cook also wrote that the measure of salt was a handful to make sure that it was as salty as the ocean. Once the container has been filled to the brim it was then sealed tight and was rested for seven days under the sun. He added that he used the mixture daily in a maximum of twenty days because after that the mixture has already liquefied.

A Roman’s staple food

Although there was a huge difference between what rich Romans serve on their dining tables compared to the poor Romans in ancient times they also have a few things in common. The most basic meal in ancient Rome is porridge called puls. They also ate bread. For those who can afford it bread was paired with honey, cheese, or eggs. It was also eaten along with all kinds of meat as well as fish and shellfish. Bread is actually the perfect partner for saucy Roman Food Recipes. The Romans of old also loved to eat fish and oysters and though they eat all kinds of meat pork is the all time favourite.

Modern Roman Food

Many people want to try several cuisines from all over the world and this makes them appreciate several cultures and most importantly eat healthy foods. Some people prefer the traditional foods and these did not have many spices and consisted mainly of natural food products. Those people searching for modern roman food need to search though different media or settle with the finest restaurants, which prepare them.

Most of the foods from Rome have been passed down since time immemorial, and some have added some ingredients to the recipes and this makes them modern. There are several ways that one can prepare the meals and this depends on what the people love to eat. In this part of the world, people love eating heavy breakfast and lunch, and the supper is light. There are several drinks and wine is one of the important elements at the dinner table.

Many people do not know that modern roman food is also the Italian roman food and some think that these are two different aspects. They are known all over the globe for the love of pasta, which is very easy to prepare. The modern pasta has various flavors and they are ideal for dinner, parties since they are very easy to prepare and light on the stomach. People who want to eat healthy settle for pasta and vegetables and they cut off excessive fats but still have all the essentials.

Pizza is also one of the modern roman food inventions and over the years, there have been different flavors created. This is the home of pizza and many people from all over the globe love the Italian pizza and this is one of the food they will enquire when they get to this country. There are several hotels in the world, that specialize in Italian pizza and copy the recipes from the renowned chefs in the region.

Some of the common roman foods include crostata, trippa, carcio fi alla giuda, amongst others. One of the simple ways to prepare these foods is to use the online recipes from the roman country and you will get to know some of the simple dishes and prepare them. Luckily, most roman foods use the common ingredients and spices making it very easy for everyone in the world to enjoy some of the modern delicacies. The foods are available for parties, breakfast, and add up as healthy snacks.


The Roman Dinner Party

By Neel Burton
24 July 2012
Article source: Outre Monde

Our most important source on Roman gastronomy is the cookbook of Apicius, compiled in or around the late 4th century AD, and containing recipes for such delicacies as larks’ tongues, sterile sows’ wombs, and milk-fed snails. The Apicius in question is not to be confounded with Marcus Gavius Apicius, the gourmet extraordinaire of the 1st century AD, who fed dried figs to his pigs to make the porcine equivalent of foie gras. According to Pliny, Apicius was ‘born to enjoy every extravagant luxury that could be contrived’ (ad omne luxus ingenium natus). It is said that he committed suicide after having spent 100 million sestertii on his kitchen, and discovering that he had only 10 million sestertii left.

By the late Republic, Roman meals consisted of breakfast or ientaculum at dawn, a small lunch or prandium around noon, and a large dinner or cena in the evening. A simple dinner with the family normally took place in the atrium, and may have consisted of vegetable courses and salads accompanied by eggs, cheese, and beans, and rounded off with fruits and nuts. By the end of the Republic, the cena consisted of three distinct courses, and, in the presence of guests, could segue into a late-night drinking party or comissatio—the Roman equivalent of a Greek symposium.

On these more formal occasions, the feasting took place in a dining room called a triclinium (from the Greek τρικλίνιον, ‘three couches’), with couches arranged on three sides of a central table. The fourth, open side usually faced the entrance of the room, and afforded a space for slaves to service the table. Each couch admitted of at most three diners, reclining on their left elbow with their head pointing at the table; in some cases, a fourth diner—usually an intimate friend or a minor of high social standing—could also be seated.

The required posture would have been uncomfortable had the couches not been covered in cushions and positively inclined towards the table. The various positions around the table were not all equal, with the host seating his guests according to social status and closeness or intimacy. Unlike in Greece, women could be present; in the Republic they usually sat on chairs, but in the Empire they could also recline on a couch. Grander houses often featured a second, summer triclinium in or overlooking the garden, and the grandest houses had three or four or even more triclinia.

Upon arrival, guests at a dinner party removed their sandals and washed their hands. The host did not provide any napkins, and each guest had to bring his own. Napkins served to wipe the hands and mouth, of course, but also to take home leftover tit bits and even, in some cases, a gift or souvenir from the host. During the meal, food was taken from plate to mouth with three fingers or with one of two spoons, the larger lugula for soups and pottages and the smaller, prong-like cochlear for eggs and shellfish. Between the three principal courses, diners rinsed their fingers in perfumed water whilst slaves washed the table and swept away the bones and shells that had been tossed onto the floor.

After the second course, the host made an offering of something like meat, cake, and wine to the Lares of the house. Conversation made up the bulk of the evening’s entertainment, and could be supplemented with a recital of literature or poetry, and even with performances by acrobats, conjurers, musicians, singers, or dancers—although the diners themselves never got up to dance. At the end of the evening, guests called for their sandals (whence the expression, soleas poscere, ‘to ask for one’s sandals’—to prepare to leave) and maybe received a gift or souvenir to take home in their napkin.

The Roman dinner party is a popular and recurrent theme in Roman literature. In a letter, Pliny the Younger (61-112 AD) chides his friend Septicius Clarus for not turning up to his dinner party.

All ready were a lettuce each, three snails, two eggs, porridge, with mulsum and snow … olives, beetroot, gourds, bulbs, and a thousand other things no less appreciated. You would have heard comic actors or a poetry reader or a lyrist, or, such is my generosity, all three. But you chose to go to someone else’s for oysters, sows’ wombs, sea urchins, and dancing girls from Cadiz.

The best if most lurid description of a Roman dinner party is Trimalchio’s Feast (Cena Trimalchionis) in the Satyricon, a rather salacious novel attributed to Petronius, a courtier in the time of Nero. Trimalchio’s Feast is arguably the most celebrated section of the Satyricon, even though—or perhaps because—it has done untold harm to the reputation of the Roman dinner party. Trimalchio, a freedman who has come into enormous wealth, entertains his guests with ostentatious and grotesque extravagance.

For example, he brings out Falernian wine from the Opimian vintage of 180 years prior, and serves a course with a multitude of disparate ingredients each representing one of the signs of the zodiac: a lobster for Capricorn, the udder of a young sow for Virgo, testicles and kidneys (which come in pairs) for Gemini, and so on. The evening culminates with his entire household gratifying him with an enactment of his funeral.

The Romans ate all sorts of food. Rather than itemizing all the ingredients available to the Romans, it is simpler and easier to itemize all the ingredients not available at the height of the Empire. The principal items on this list of absentees are sugar, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, rice, butter, tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas, peanuts, and chili pepper. The Eastern conquests of Alexander the Great had brought back to Greece such delicacies as citrus fruits, peaches, pistachio nuts, and even the prized peacock. As they became increasingly rich and cosmopolitan, the Romans left behind their diet of emmer wheat gruel and adopted and adapted the sophisticated Greek cuisine.

In time, Roman cuisine became even more exciting and exotic than the Greek—not entirely dissimilar, in fact, to modern Indian cuisine, with any one Roman dish enhanced by up to 15 different herbs and spices. The Romans had something of a sweet tooth, and many of their dishes involved balancing the sweetness of honey or concentrated grape juice (defrutum) with the acidity, sourness, or bitterness of vinegar, fish sauce (garum or liquamen), and a vast array of fresh and dried herbs and expensive spices—including even, from the first century AD, the pepper of south India and the cloves of the Spice Islands.

Fish sauce, which was not dissimilar to Thai nam pla, was made from whole small fish such as anchovy, sardine, mackerel, sprat, and herring. The fish were macerated in salt and left to liquefy over a period of several weeks. This liquefaction resulted not from bacterial putrefaction, which the salt would have prevented, but from proteolysis by the enzymes contained in the viscera of the fish. Meat was relatively expensive. The cow was seen as a draught animal, and pork, rodents such as rabbit and hare, foul, and fish were much preferred to beef. Red mullet, which, upon dying, assumed a variety of colours and shades with which to entertain guests, was particularly sought after, as were dormice, which were typically stuffed with minced pork, pepper, pine kernels, and garum. Indeed, one of the many dishes to feature in Trimalchio’s Feast is ‘a row of dormice, glazed in honey and rolled in poppy seeds’.