You know the saying just as well as I do; When in Rome, Do as The Romans Do. But in this case, it’s eat as the Romans eat! Rome is a country blessed with rich history, a fantastic culture, and even greater food. Always the center of family gatherings, intimate occasions, or an overall pleasant time, food has been a significant part of history that has transcended time and space.
From exotic, strange cuisine like the much talked about dormice, liquamen fish sauce, and Calda wine, to favorites enjoyed throughout the world such as cheese, meat, and wine, here are 10 fascinating facts you didn’t know about Roman Food!
Fact 1: In popular Roman and Greek mythology, Dionysus was the God of Wine and Merrymaking. He represented humanity’s ability to celebrate love and life, and he also embodied the effects of alcohol on men. Merry when drunk, and a little scary after one too many drinks.
Fact 2: In Rome, breakfast is known as jentaculum, while lunch is called by the word prandium, and the most important and main meal of the day, dinner, is called cena.
Fact 3: Some of their favorite munchies include carrots, radishes, beans, dates, turnips, pears, plums, pomegranates, almonds, olives, figs, celery, apples, cabbages, pumpkins, grapes, as well as mushrooms. Notably, the rich were known to have eaten more extravagant meals, and were known to keep animals and livestock for their favorite meals, and this included beef, pork, wild boar, venison, hare, guinea fowl, pheasant, chicken, geese, peacock, duck, and even dormice served with honey. The poorer Romans didn’t have the resources to eat as much meat as they liked, and often resorted to fruits, vegetables, and bread instead.
Fact 4: The Romans love their seafood, too! Shellfish and liquamen, to be exact. The latter a distinct and flavorful fish sauce they loved to pair with their catch fresh from the sea.
Fact 5: Bread was a staple dish in Rome, and even then, social roles and high positions would dictate what sort of treatment you received in this life. In ancient Rome, only the rich were allowed to eat refined white bread. The less appetizing ends were given to the middle class and poor to consume. Pottage, a popular thick porridge, was a thick stew that was cooked by adding some wheat and pieces of meat.
Fact 6: Surprisingly, this vibrant lot didn’t drink wine straight or pure; the often had their wine watered down, or mixed with honey or spices. In the winter, Calda would be drunk, a mix of water, wine, and spices. Mulsum was wine plus honey. Romans didn’t like beer and rarely touched milk.
Fact 7: In a typical roman banquet, you’d find the works set on the long table: cheeses of all flavors and textures, honey, grapes, dates, pomegranate, a helluva lot of wine, freshly baked white bread, beef, pork, goat, roasted bird, shellfish, and stew.
Fact 8: Dinner with guests would typically last about four hours. If there weren’t any guests, dinner would take about an hour. A great feast would consist of wine by the barrels, dormice dipped in honey and rolled in poppy seeds, sausages, cheese, stew, olives, and bread.
Fact 9: If you happened to be received by a very rich master for supper, Egyptian slaves would wash your hands with ice water for you before eating your meal!
Fact 10: Back in the day, Romans were chowing down on some pancakes for breakfast, too! Wheat pancakes served with dates and honey. Delicious.