Ancient roman food refers to the food prepared in Rome from the time of its founding in 753 BC until 476 AD. The food generally had a sweet sour flavor. Meat was predominantly consumed, although vegetables were eaten too.
Influences on Ancient Roman Cuisine
Ancient roman cuisine underwent significant changes over course of several years. The earliest Roman food was very simple. However, from 301 BC, the cuisine was influenced by their Greek counterparts. Meals became more sophisticated for the wealthy, and people preferred gourmet foods with the usage of wine, honey, cheese, nuts, and eggs. The usage of olive oil was prevalent. However, the food of the poor remained the same, and the differences in eating habits became wider between the rich and the poor.
Cereals, wheat, vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, and cheese were some of the common ingredients used to prepare ancient roman food. Meat was usually pork. Meat from birds such as chicken, duck, geese, and swans was also consumed. Vegetables such as onions, garlic, cabbage, beans, and lentils were available. Romans used a lot of herbs and spices in cooking. Honey was used as a sweetener. Milk products such as cheese were used; however, milk itself was not used for drinking.
Domed ovens were used to make breads and pastries. Honey and vinegar was added to most foods to acquire a sweet sour taste.
Bread was an everyday breakfast food for the ancient Romans. It was consumed with eggs, fish, or meat and was sometimes sweetened using honey. Lunch for the poor comprised primarily bread or porridge, which was made from emmer, salt, and water. For the rich, however, a meal consisted of an appetizer, main dish, and a dessert. The appetizers were made of fish, eggs, or raw vegetables. Main course comprised cooked meat or vegetables. Among the meat varieties, pork, oysters, and snails were the favorites. Cakes, tarts, pastries, and fruits were served for dessert.
Wine was a regular fare in ancient Rome. It was diluted with water and drunk by the wealthy. The poor people drank an inferior quality wine called posca.
Food Etiquette and Habits
The ancient Roman meal was complete with starters, main dish, and dessert. The dining room was a special room where the diners sat in a reclined position in specially made couches. The romans washed their hands and feet before every meal. Food was eaten with the fingertips and a type of a fork.
Ancient roman food was not particularly healthy, although they were rich. Importance was not given to nutrition and gourmet food was preferred. However, it can be believed that the romans, both rich and poor, got the required nutrition from the foods they ate. The bread, which was consumed every day, provided the carbohydrates. The fish and meat were a rich source of protein. The fresh fruits and vegetables supplied the necessary vitamins. Wine was consumed regularly, which should have provided the antioxidants. Wine also had heart-protective properties. Romans, however, consumed pastries with cheese and other milk products. Thus, the ancient Rome food could have been high in fat and cholesterol due to the meat and the pastry varieties.