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Food is not only the way we nourish and fuel our bodies; it is a symbol for culture and life. Food can provide memories to many. You might remember the time you cooked your grandma’s special tomato sauce and laughed and laughed with her. Food can also provide a sense of culture. Every culture, ethnicity, etc. has their own unique dishes, which represent them in a special way. Food can provide energy and nourish us, too. We can learn who a person is by the food they eat. We have done this since the Ancient Romans. We have observed their food and created stories and theories of what life was like back then. Our experts, Alyssa Reilly, Will Norton-Bliss, Andrea Connell, Jess Miele, and Nikki Trupiano have researched several aspects of Ancient Roman food, such as drinks, fast food, preparation, ingredients, kitchens, food sources, recipes, and even food etiquette. Food has provided us an abundance of knowledge, but most importantly it is the basis of everyday life, changing the course of evolution. (INTRODUCTION) -Nikki Trupiano Janauary 8, 2010

Breakfast & Dinner The first meal of the day was known as the ientaculum. This would be considered breakfast for Americans in the present day. For the large portion of Romans and Roman Slaves, they would have consumed plain water and possibly a piece of bread. Wealthier Ancient Romans would have eaten bread, honey and fruit in the morning. To drink they would have had plain water also. Sometimes for the wealthier, there would have been cheese with the bread at breakfast. Also, olives and raisins could have possibly been eaten with the bread. It was tradition for the richer Ancient Romans to distribute food and bread to the poorer Romans. Many Ancient Roman workers would grab pieces of bread on their way to work. Poor people and slaves would have had only water as a snack. If they were lucky, bread would have been available to help soothe their snack-time cravings. Dinner, cena, for the wealthier Ancient Romans was the main meal of the day. More time was spent in preparing the meal, than actually eating it. Under the rule of Emperor Hadrian, rich Ancient Romans might have eaten fish, fruit, an assortment of meat, such as, pork, chicken and rabbit, vegetables, cheese, olives and honey. On holidays or special occasions, Ancient Romans would have eaten more unusual meats like Giraffe and Flamingo. They also would have dipped their bread in wine. Most people in Ancient Rome would have eaten bread, along with fruits and vegetables at dinner time. Another possible dinner meal for the Romans was hot wheat porridge known as puls. Poorer people and slaves only had bread for dinner. The Ancient Romans thoroughly enjoyed Fish Sauce - Garum, which was used to flavor their meals. Garum was a salty, fish-based sauce - very fragrant. It had previously been used by the Ancient Greeks. -Nikki Trupiano 11.22.09

^^Edited on JANUARY 8, 2010

Fast Food & Drinks
Drinking is a very important aspect of the Roman Culture. The Roman's usually just drink water or wine at a daily basis at night. The Romans loved wine but they did not drink it without first doing some special things to it. Whenever the Romans drank wine they always diluted it and put spices in it and warmed it up. Drinking undiluted wine was considered barbaric to the Romans. When the lower classes drank they drank pasca, this was made by watering down a drink similar to vinegar. Other common drinks were beer and mead, these were most commonly drank in the northern provinces.
-Will Norton-Bliss

Introduction to Fast Food and Drink
Ancient Romans surprising ate out a lot for its ease of use. Common fast food places in ancient Rome would be a pub-like place called a thermopolium. At these places people could buy warmed wines or the ancient equivalent to fast foods. Along with thermopolium people could also get food at small taverns that would have sausages, bread, cheese, dates, along with wine. Romans could also eat at the baths for if while they were relaxing in a bath they might want to have some food to go along with the bathing. Some snack food or fast food that the romans would also eat might be the meat from an animal that was killed at the Coliseum that night. These animals could range from lions to even giraffes.
This is supposed to be a picture of a giraffe but it is not showing up

Will Norton-Bliss

Different Drinks
1/06/10- I didnt know the password and username

There are many common drinks that the Romans drank. One of them being calda, this drink was wine and warm water laced with spices. This drink was most commonly consumed in the winter. Another common drink was mulsum. This was a honeyed wine. The Romans never drank wine with nothing in it. Along with wine the Romans also drank posca this was vinegar watered down enough so that it would be drinkable. The best wine producing places in Italy at the time were Caecuban, Setian, Falernian, and Massic. The Romans held their wine in their basement in glass jars each labeled with when they were laid away. Wine was a very popular drink unlike beer, which was considered barbaric along with sheep or goats milk.wine_image.jpg

Will Norton-Bliss
Along with white wine and red wine there were other flavors as well. A common flavor was passum, which was a very strong, raisin wine. There was also mulsum, which was a mixture of wine and honey. There was also conditum, which was a mixture of wine, spices, and honey, made in advance developed. There were also other versions of conditum, which called for more ingredients. Another drink was a mixture of seawater, pitch, and rosin added to wine.

Will Norton-Bliss
Fast food is not only a part of our culture today but also a key part of ancient latin culture. From studies in Pompeii, scientists have found signs of "small grilling vessels" that are like grills. With these grills and the absence of formal dining dishes, people have said that this must lead to fast food. Also, in Pompeii, after the great volcano eruption, Rome made some renovations to fix it up. They made public baths near fast food restaurants. This would cause people that were taking baths in the bath houses to go outside and get a quick bite to eat at a fast food restaurant. Many of the fast food places in Pompeii were places where you could buy breads and beverages.
This is a stand where you would buy breads and beverages

Farming, Agriculture, and Other Food Sources

The three primary crops in ancient Rome were wheat, olives, and grapes. In the first century AD, a wheat reaping machine was invented in France. Before that time, all the wheat and grain was harvested by hand. This new, helpful machine was called the vallus. The Romans had a very specific process for harvesting wheat. First, they would beat the wheat to separate the chaff (outer coating) from the kernels. The kernels were then put into a basket and thrown up into the air. When this process was done, the lefter chaff would blow away because it was lighter than the wheat, and the heavy grain would fall to the bottom. Next in the process, they also got wooden sleds called tribulums that were pulled over the wheat to separate the chaff.
When all or 1 of those methods was used, the wheat would be dried. It was laid on a floor known as the drying floor, where there was a type of central heating system under the floor that helped to dry out the grain. This system was very similar to the one that the Romans used to heat their baths, and was called a hypocaust. The grain was then stored in a granary until it was needed.
When the time came to use the grain, it was ground by large stones. A donkey mill or water wheel was used for large amounts of grain at one time. These methods did have a drawback; the flour they produced was coarse and needed to be sifted before use.

By Jess Miele, 11/22/09

By Jess Miele, November 30, 2009
Slaves were the primary caretakers of the farming industry. The slaves dealt with a variety of crops, but mostly wheat, olives and grapes. Grapes served a dual purpose; they were both eaten and used in wines. Olives were mostly made into olive oil, which served an important role in Roman cuisine. Olive oil was used for a variety of different reasons. It was used in cooking and as butter, like the way it is used in Italian cooking today. It was put in baths as a sort of soap and was also burned as fuel.
Slaves also acted as carpenters and blacksmiths, repairing farm tools and carts. They also looked after some of the livestock, such as cows, sheep, and pigs. They spun wool into fabric and items used by the Roman army. Rome’s greatest source of economic wealth was from exporting farm products such as wine, oil, tools, and meat.

Farming and Agriculture
Farms in ancient Rome were divided into 3 categories, all dependent on size. These farms were measured in iugerum, the plural form being iugera. (I believe that this is a second declension neuter noun.) One iugerum is approximately .65 acres. A small farm in ancient Rome was 18-108 iugera.
A medium sized farm was 80-500 iugera, and large was over 500. Cato the Elder, a politician and statesman in the mid-to late Roman Republic thought that a 100 iugera (about 63 acre) farm should have: "a foreman, a foreman's wife, ten laborers, one ox driver, one donkey driver, one man in charge of the willow grove, one swineherd, in all sixteen persons; two oxen, two asses for wagon work, one ass for the mill work." The machinery and equipment for farming should have: "three presses fully equipped, storage jars in which five vintages amounting to eight hundred cullei can be stored, twenty storage jars for wine-press refuse, twenty for grain, separate coverings for the jars, six fiber-covered half amphorae, four fiber-covered amphorae, two funnels, three basketwork strainers, three straingers to dip up the flower, and ten jars for the wine juice”

By Jess Miele
December 17
Quote source: Wikipedia

Plowing and Irrigation
By Jess Miele, January 13

The Romans had a very advanced civilization, and because of this they had somewhat simpler versions of the same farming tools that we use today. The Romans used a tool called an ard to plow their fields. It was used to break the soil and when the field was ploughed, it was done twice in opposite directions, making a type of criss-cross pattern. Oxen were used to pull the plows because the roots and vines in the soil mad plowing by hand difficult.
Irrigation was necessary in the Roman Empire to maintain the grain and other food that farming produced. The Romans built dams and reservoirs to serve this purpose. The Romans lined their reservoirs with waterproof cement to ensure maximum water retention and productivity of these man-made structures. Some reservoirs were even up to 2000 square meters! The picture below is of an ard.

The ard, an ancient plough
The ard, an ancient plough

Animals on the Farm
Oxen, mules, sheep, and donkeys were used for their work, milk, manure, meat, and wool. Pigs and goats were also bred and kept in pens, and goat hair was especially important for its use in making ropes. Ducks and peacocks were considered “luxury birds” and were raised with great care. Romans created the process of breeding animals so that better characteristics, physical and psychological, would appear in the offspring. This system is still used today to improve breeds of livestock. They also trained their oxen to be tame and walk in straight lines while plowing.
external image oxen%201.jpg <----- An oxen
There are a wide variety of different foods that the Romans ate. One recipe that I found that was particularly interesting was a type of burger. The dish was called Isicia Omentata. It was simple but sounds somewhat tasty. The burger includes minced meat, A roll soaked in white wine, ground pepper, liquamen, and green peppercorns and baking foil. The instructions to making it are missing the meat with the French roll, ground the spices and mix them into the meat. Then you form small burgers and put the peppercorns into them. Lastly, you put them into baking foil and grill them together with Caroenum. Caroenum must be boiled. You have to boil the new wine or grape juice until it is half of the amount that you started with. By Alyssa Reilly 11-22-09
There are several Roman dishes that are more than just the exotic meals slaves would serve. Instead, some ordinary dishes spicy sauces with roast pork, cheese with dates and nuts, omelets including mushrooms. Also, the Romans enjoyed desserts like figs on custard and cheesecake. After all, their normal meal isn't as outgoing as many of us would have suspected. Lastly, I learned about a Roman chef named Apicius. He made a cook book that can still be used today by us.
By Alyssa Reilly 12.16.09

A simple Roman recipe was Green Beans. An easy combination that tastes good. Some ingredients in the Green beans would be:
500g of Green Beans
5ml Liquamen (type of fish) or 1/2 tsp of Salt with 50ml of wine
12 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon of minced coriander leaves or 1/2 tablespoon of ground coriander seeds
1tsp of cumin seeds
1/2 of finely chopped leek

All you have to do for this dish is cook the beans with the liquamen, then oil, the leaks and spices and you are quickly ready to serve it.
external image green_beans.jpg
~Alyssa Reilly [1.14.09]


Wiki Posting #4
The Romans had a wide variety of ingredients. They included:
Caroenum : This was very sweet wine. It was used especially for cooking.
Defrutum : This was thick fruit syrup, or a sort of Roman jellylike preserve.
Garum : This was the fish sauce. It added a salty taste to food.
Liquamen : is "any kind of culinary liquid, depending upon the occasion". Today, it would be considered a brine.
Pepper : Pepper is the same as we have today.

From: http://www.squidoo.com/ancient-food-rome
Also, cattle were working animals. They were key to agricultural success. They were used especially for tasks such as plowing or pulling carts. Because of this, their meat was usually very tough and had to be cooked for a long time to make it edible. Because of this, beef was very unpopular. Even calf meat was unpopular. There are only a few recipes that include beef. Pork was the more commonly eaten. It was the best liked meat. All parts of the pig were eaten, and more unusual parts like the breasts and uterus of young females were treated highly. Pigs ears were also a delicacy.
From: Wikipedia

Picture From: http://crystalking.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/friday-snippet-cena-apicius-revelation/

By: Nikki Trupiano
January 3, 2009

Food Etiquette
In Rome, the Romans can eat whatever and whenever they want.
A full meal contains rice, pizza, pasta, or soup. A second meal contains meat, fish, or some veggie/cheese main course. This is followed by fruit or some type of desert. (All of this food adds up to less than a hamburger with French fries that would be served at a steakhouse here in the USA.) Nobody has to eat all of the courses. The main meals really aren’t that big. You would probably want to skip the primo or have the soup instead of the pasta.
Many people will have a primo at lunch and a “secondo” at dinner, or vice versa. But you should always eat one dish at a time.
High-end places also tend to have smaller meals.

Andrea Connell
November 22, 2009

When you’re finished with your food, they will, as usual, take your dish away from you, but you are supposed to keep your fork to use for the next course. But, if you find it gross to do that, you purposely, by mistake drop your fork on the ground and yell out, “Oh dear, I’ve dropped my fork!” (In Italian: "Aiuto! - Mia forchetta!") Then the host will quickly bring you a clean fork. In the USA, when you have different courses of meals, the one after the first course is usually a little bit tastier than the one that came before that course. But in Rome, it’s different. It starts off good and then gets “worse”.

-Andrea Connell
December 1, 2009

The tradition for Chritmas in Ancient Rome were pretty different from the traditions now. In mid-December to early January, they would have a non-stop party. They began with a winter festival and ended with the Roman New Year, or the Calens. The Calens mean the first day. People exchange gifts. Most common gifts were dates, figs, honey, and money. Also, homes were decorated with laural branches.
-Andrea Connell
December 17, 2009

Dinner PartiesVery rich Romans had the luxury of being able to spoil themselves. Many of these Romans liked to spoil themselves by having nurmerous amounts of slaves cook them very elegant dinners. The slaves would cook meals either for their masters or their master's guests. The meals would be served in exquisite dining rooms. They tried to serve food that wouldn’t normally be served or was very expensive. All of these excellent dishes served the purpose of boasting of your wealthiness to your prominent guests. It earned you bragging rights. The extravagance of the food at dinner parties was more important to rich Romans than how the food actually tasted. When these dinner parties were hosted, they ate in a more formal way. They lied down on couches around a table. There were usually three couches in a room so these formal dining rooms were called triclinia. This was because tri means three and cline means down. Poor Romans, which was the majority of the population, ate sitting at wooden tables. This is the way we eat today. They sat on wooden stools, because most people didn’t have chairs with backs. If they were slaves, they sat on a straw mat or the floor. Many poor Romans rarely held dinner parties.
-Nikki Trupiano 11.24.09

^^EDITED on JANUARY 8, 2010


By Alyssa Reilly 11-30-09

Recipes that the Romans would use bear a resemblance to the performance of fusion cooking nowadays. However, there is nothing technically that is cultural Roman food. Although, the Roman food was established by Greek cookery. It grew from Greek slaves who cooked and then came to Rome. One crucial ingredient in Roman food is fish sauce, a major factor of everyday food. Also, the most important untensils or equipment was the pestle, a grinder and a knife so mostly all of the food was chopped into little pieces or puréed before served.

Preparation was hard work for the Romans. Flour was ground between two heavy stones and then sifted. Mortars and pestles were used to crush herbs and nuts. The average Roman would use bronze spoons and knives because iron utensils were very expensive and forks were not used. Typical Romans would also use wooden or pottery plates. However, the wealthy used bronze, tin or pewter plates. Because Romans did not use soap, they rinsed their dishes with water and their utensils with sand and water.
external image img_1196_edited1_mid.jpg
Alyssa Reilly 1-25-09

​ Kitchens

Poor Romans who lived in the countryside usually lived with their whole entire family in one room of a tiny apartment or other housing. This meant that there weren’t separate kitchens. Instead, these people cooked over a small fire or on a charcoal brazier. This was usually done in the courtyard or in their room, in the case of bad weather. For poor Romans who lived in the city and usually didn’t have a courtyard, they cooked with the brazier in their room. They also could have bought already cooked food in the local restaurants or from street vendors to avoid the hassle of having to cook the food. On the other hand, rich people definitely had kitchens in their homes, except, they didn’t cook in them much. The slaves were the ones who used the kitchen to prepare the meals. Because the slaves were the ones who used the kitchens, they were generally small, crowded, and not luxurious at all. They were also placed in the back of the house where nobody could see them. The kitchens of the rich Romans had built-in clay ovens. They had burner like objects on top, like our stoves, except they were heated by a charcoal fire inside. They also had wooden cupboards, the same as ours, to keep the dishes and food in. They had objects called potracks for the pots and pans.
romanoven.jpgFrom: http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/romans/architecture/houses/kitchens.htm
A Roman oven

-Nikki Trupiano