Ancient Roman cuisine changed over the long duration of the ancient Roman civilization. Dietary habits were affected by the influence of Greek culture, the political changes from kingdom to republic to empire, and the empire's enormous expansion, which exposed Romans to many new provincial culinary habits and cooking methods.
In the beginning, dietary differences between Roman social classes were not very great, but disparities developed with the empire's growth.
Traditionally, a breakfast called ientaculum was served at dawn. At mid-day to early afternoon, Romans ate cena, the main meal of the day, and at nightfall a light supper called vesperna. With the increased importation of foreign foods, the cena grew larger in size and included a wider range of foods. It gradually shifted to the evening, while the vesperna was abandoned completely. The mid-day meal prandium became a light meal to hold one over until cena. Among the lower classes of society, these changes were less pronounced as the traditional routines corresponded closely to the daily rhythms of manual labour.
Among the upper classes, who did not engage in manual labour, it became customary to schedule all business obligations in the morning. After the prandium, the last responsibilities would be discharged, and a visit would be made to the baths. Around 2 p.m., the cena would begin. This meal could last until late in the night, especially if guests were invited, and would often be followed by comissatio, a round of alcoholic beverages.
In the period of the kings and the early Republic, but also in later periods (for the working classes), the cena essentially consisted of a kind of porridge, the puls. The simplest kind would be made from emmer, water, salt and fat. The more sophisticated kind was made with olive oil, with an accompaniment of assorted vegetables when available. The richer classes ate their puls with eggs, cheese, and honey and it was also occasionally served with meat or fish.
Over the course of the Republican period, the Cena developed into two courses: the main course and a dessert with fruit and seafood (e.g. molluscs, shrimp). By the end of the Republic, it was usual for the meal to be served in three parts: an appetiser (gustatio), main course (primae mensae), and dessert (secundae mensae).
The Roman legions' staple ration of food was wheat. In the 4th century, most legionnaires ate as well as anyone in Rome. They were supplied with rations of bread and vegetables along with meats such as beef, mutton, or pork. Rations also depended on where the legions were stationed or were campaigning. Mutton was popular in Northern Gaul and Britannica, but pork was the main meat ration of the legions.
From 123 BC, a ration of unmilled wheat (as much as 33 kg), known as the frumentatio, was distributed to as many as 200,000 people every month by the Roman state. There was originally a charge for this but from 58 BC this charge was abolished by the plebeian tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher. Individuals had to be citizens and domiciled in Rome to receive the frumentatio.
Originally flat, round loaves made of emmer (a cereal grain closely related to wheat) with a bit of salt were eaten; among the upper classes, eggs, cheese, and honey, along with milk and fruit were also consumed. In the Imperial period, around the beginning of the Christian era, bread made of wheat was introduced; with time, more and more wheaten foods began to replace emmer loaves. There were many kinds of bread of differing quality. Typically white bread was baked for the elite, with darker bread baked for the middle class, and the darkest bread for the poor peasants. The bread was sometimes dipped in wine and eaten with olives, cheese, and grapes. At the time of the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79, there were at least 33 bakeries in that city. The Roman chefs made sweet buns flavored with blackcurrants and cheese cakes made with flour, honey, eggs, ricotta-like cheese and poppy seed. Sweet wine cakes were made with honey, reduced red wine and cinnamon. Fruit tarts were popular with the upper class, but the lower classes couldn’t afford to personally make them or purchase them from markets and vendors.
The ancient Roman diet included many items that are staples of modern Italian cooking. Pliny the Elder discussed more than 30 varieties of olive, 40 kinds of pear, figs (native and imported from Africa and the eastern provinces), and a wide variety of vegetables.[a] Some of these vegetables are no longer present in the modern world, while others have undergone significant changes. Carrots of different colours were consumed, but not in orange.
However, some foods considered characteristic of modern Italian cuisine were not used. In particular, spinach and aubergine were introduced later from the Arab world, and tomatoes and capsicum peppers only appeared in Europe following the discovery of the New World and the Columbian Exchange. The Romans knew about rice but it was very rarely available. There were also a few citrus fruits. Lemons were known in Italy from the second century AD but were not widely cultivated.
Butcher's meat was an uncommon luxury. The most popular meat was pork, especially sausages. Beef was uncommon in ancient Rome, being more common in ancient Greece – it is not mentioned by Juvenal or Horace. Seafood, game, and poultry, including ducks and geese, were more usual. For instance, on his triumph, Caesar gave a public feast to 260,000 humiliores (poorer people) which featured all three of these foods, but no butcher's meat. John E. Stambaugh writes that meat "was scarce except at sacrifices and the dinner parties of the rich." Cows were prized for the milk; bulls as plough and draft animals. The beef was tough and unappetizing. Veal was eaten sometimes. Apicius gives only four recipes for beef but the same recipes call for lamb or pork as options. There is only one recipe for beef stew and another for veal scallopini.
Fish was more common than meat. Aquaculture was sophisticated, with large-scale industries devoted to oyster farming. The Romans also engaged in snail farming and oak grub farming. Some fish were greatly esteemed and fetched high prices, such as mullet raised in the fishery at Cosa, and "elaborate means were invented to assure its freshness."
Dormice were eaten and considered a delicacy. It was a status symbol among wealthy Romans, and some even had dormice weighed in front of dinner guests. A sumptuary law enacted under Marcus Aemilius Scaurus forbade the eating of dormice, but failed to stop the practice.
Fruit was eaten fresh when in season, and dried or preserved over winter. Popular fruit included apples, pears, figs, grapes, quinces, citron, strawberries, blackberries, elderberries, currants, damson plums, dates, melons, rose hips and pomegranates. Less common fruits were the more exotic azeroles and medlars. Cherries and apricots, both introduced in the 1st century BC, were popular. Peaches were introduced in the 1st century AD from Persia. Oranges and lemons were known but used more for medicinal purposes than in cookery. Although known to the ancient Romans, lemons were not cultivated in Italy until the Principate. At least 35 cultivars of pear were grown in Rome, along with three types of apples. Cato described pear culture methods similar to modern techniques. There are recipes for pear and peach creams and milk puddings flavored with honey, pepper and a little garum.
Many kinds of vegetables were cultivated and consumed. These included celery, garlic, taro, gourds, some flower bulbs, cabbage and other brassicas (such as kale and broccoli), lettuce, endive, onion, leek, asparagus, radishes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, green peas, chard, French beans, courgettes, cardoons, olives, and cucumber. Some vegetables were illustrated in reliefs. The potato, tomato and chili pepper (capsicums) from the New World were not available in ancient Roman times nor maize (the modern source of polenta).
While the precursors of Brussels sprouts, artichokes, sweet peas, rutabaga and possibly cauliflower probably existed in Roman times, the modern cultivated forms we think of were not developed until the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance times. Cabbage was eaten both raw (sometimes dipped in vinegar) and cooked. Cato greatly esteemed cabbage, believing it to be good for the digestion, and also believed that if a sick person ate a great deal of cabbage and bathed in his urine, he would recover.
Legumes were limited to dried peas, sweet peas, Lupines, lentils and fava beans. The Romans knew several varieties of chickpea, such as venus, ram, and punic. They were either cooked down into a broth or roasted as a snack. The Roman cookbook Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas. The ancient Romans ate walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts and sesame seeds, which they sometimes pulverized to thicken spiced, sweet wine sauces for roast meat and fowl to serve on the side or over the meat as a glaze. Nuts were also used in savoury pesto-like sauces for cold cuts. Nuts were used in pastries, tarts and puddings sweetened with honey.
The Roman colonies provided many foods to Rome; the city received ham from Belgium, oysters from Brittany, garum from Mauritania, wild game from Tunisia, silphium (laser) from Cyrenaica, flowers from Egypt, lettuce from Cappadocia, and fish from Pontus.
Cheese was eaten and its manufacture was well-established by the Roman Empire period. It was part of the standard rations for Roman soldiers and was popular among civilians as well. The Emperor Diocletian (284–305 CE) fixed maximum prices for cheese. The manufacture of cheese and its quality and culinary uses are mentioned by a number of Roman authors: Pliny the Elder described cheese's dietary and medicinal uses in Book 28 of Historia Naturalis, and Varro in De Agricultura described the Roman cheesemaking season (spring and summer) and compared soft, new cheeses with drier, aged cheeses. The most extensive description of Roman cheese-making comes from Columella, from his treatise on Roman agriculture, De Re Rustica.
Garum was the distinctive fish sauce of ancient Rome. It was used as a seasoning, in place of salt; as a table condiment; and as a sauce. There were four major fish sauce types: garum, liquamen, muria, and allec. It was made in different qualities, from fish such as tuna, mullet, and sea bass. It could be flavoured, for example mixed with wine, or diluted with water (hydrogarum), a form popular among Roman soldiers, although the emperor Elagabalus asserted that he was the first to serve it at public banquets in Rome. The most costly garum was garum sociorum, made from mackerel (scomber) at the New Carthage fisheries in Spain, and widely traded. Pliny wrote in his Natural History that two congii (1.84 gallons) of this sauce cost 1,000 sesterces. One thousand sesterces in the Early Empire was equal to 4 oz. of gold.
One of many modes of cooking in ancient Rome was the focus, a hearth that was placed in front of the lararium, the household altar which contained small sculptures of the household deity (the lares, or guardian ancestor-spirits, and the penates, who were believed to protect the floor, the larder). In homes where the lararium was built into the wall, the focus was sometimes built of raised brick into four sides, constructed against a baseboard on which a fire was lit. More common was a focus that was rectangular and portable, consisting simply of a moveable hearth with stone or bronze feet. After the development of separate kitchens, the focus began to be used only for religious offerings and for warmth, rather than for cooking.
Portable stoves and ovens were used by the Romans, and some had water pots and grills laid onto them. At Pompeii, most houses had separate kitchens, most fairly small, but a few large; the Villa of the Mysteries covers a nine-by-twelve meter area. A number of kitchens at Pompeii had no roofs, resembling courtyards more than ordinary rooms; this allowed smoke to ventilate. Kitchens that did have roofs must have been extremely smokey, since the only ventilation would come from high windows or holes in the ceiling; while the Romans built chimneys for their bakeries and smithies, they were unknown in private dwellings until about the 12th century A.D, well after the collapse of Roman civilization.
Many Roman kitchens had an oven (furnus or fornax), and some (such as the kitchen of the Villa of the Mysteries) had two. A square or dome-shaped construction of brick or stone, these ovens had a flat floor, often of granite and sometimes lava, which were filled with dry twigs and then lit. On the walls of kitchens were hooks and chains for hanging cooking equipment, including various pots and pans, knives, meat forks, sieves, graters, spits, tongs, cheese-slicers, nutcrackers, jugs for measuring, and pâté moulds.
In Ancient Rome, wine was normally mixed with water immediately before drinking, since the fermentation was not controlled and the alcohol grade was high. Wine was sometimes adjusted and "improved" by its makers: instructions survive for making white wine from red and vice versa, as well as for rescuing wine that is turning to vinegar. Those instructions as well as detailed descriptions of Roman viticulture date back to 160 BC in the first known text written in Latin prose.
Wine was also variously flavored. For example, there was passum, a strong and sweet raisin wine, for which the earliest known recipe is of Carthaginian origin; mulsum, a freshly made mixture of wine and honey (called a pyment today); and conditum, a mixture of wine, honey and spices made in advance and matured. One specific recipe, Conditum Paradoxum, is for a mixture of wine, honey, pepper, laurel, dates, mastic, and saffron, cooked and stored for later use. Another recipe called for the addition of seawater, pitch and rosin to the wine. A Greek traveler reported that the beverage was apparently an acquired taste. Sour wine mixed with water and herbs (posca) was a popular drink for the lower classes and a staple part of the Roman soldier's ration.
While lacking necessary ingredients commonly used in the modern era for sweets such as refined sugar or properly churned butter, ancient Rome had an abundance of desserts to serve after they had completed their meals served with wine. The most renowned being large platters of various fruits picked fresh, some of the more exotic fruits that were not able to grown in Rome even being shipped in from distant continents for the wealthy. Due to the lack of a sweetener such as sugar there was always a desire for the sweetest fruits that were available. Spria’s were a type of sweet pastry that were readily available during this time that were always spent with a thin cake like crust while sometimes containing fruit in them. While enkythoi's another common type of Roman pastry was more soft and like a modern era sponge cake.
Angel wings are a traditional sweet crisp pastry made out of dough that has been shaped into thin twisted ribbons, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The cookies, which originated in Ancient Roman cuisine, are found in several traditional European cuisines. Angel wings are known by many other names and have been incorporated into other regional cuisines (such as American cuisine) by immigrant populations. They are most commonly eaten in the period just before Lent, often during Carnival and on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Lent – not to be confused with "Fat Tuesday" (Mardi Gras), the day before the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday). There is a tradition in some countries for husbands to give angel wings to their wives on Friday the 13th in order to avoid bad luck.Balkan cuisine
Balkan cuisine may refer to:
Albanian cuisine, the national cuisine of the Albanian people
Bosnia and Herzegovina cuisine, the cuisine of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgarian cuisine, the cuisine of Bulgaria
Croatian cuisine, the cuisines of Croatia
Greek cuisine, the cuisine of Greece
Kosovan cuisine, the cuisine of Kosovo
Macedonian cuisine, the traditional cuisine of the Republic of Macedonia
Macedonian cuisine (Greek), the cuisine of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece
Montenegrin cuisine, the cuisine of Montenegro
Ottoman cuisine, the cuisine of the Ottoman Empire and its continuation in other cuisines
Romanian cuisine, the cuisine of Romania
Serbian cuisine, the cuisine of Serbia
Slovenian cuisine, the cuisine of SloveniaByzantine cuisine
Byzantine cuisine was marked by a merger of Greek and Roman gastronomy. The development of the Byzantine Empire and trade brought in spices, sugar and new vegetables to Greece.
Cooks experimented with new combinations of food, creating two styles in the process. These were the Eastern (Asia Minor and the Eastern Aegean), consisting of Byzantine cuisine supplemented by trade items, and a leaner style primarily based on local Greek culture.Cuisine of Rome
Cuisine of Rome may refer to:
Ancient Roman cuisine, the food, drink and eating traditions of the ancient Romans
Roman cuisine, the food, traditional dishes and eating habits in the modern city of RomeEuropean cuisine
European cuisine, or alternatively western cuisine, is a generalised term collectively referring to the cuisines of Europe and other Western countries, including (depending on the definition) that of Russia, as well as non-indigenous cuisines of the Americas, Oceania, and Southern Africa, which derive substantial influence from European settlers in those regions. The term is used by East Asians to contrast with Asian styles of cooking, analogous to Westerners' referring collectively to the cuisines of East Asian countries as Asian cuisine. When used by Westerners, the term may sometimes refer more specifically to cuisine in Europe; in this context, a synonym is Continental cuisine, especially in British English.
The cuisines of Western countries are diverse by themselves, although there are common characteristics that distinguish Western cooking from cuisines of Asian countries and others. Compared with traditional cooking of Asian countries, for example, meat is more prominent and substantial in serving-size. Steak and cutlet in particular are common dishes across the West. Western cuisines also put substantial emphasis on grape wine and on sauces as condiments, seasonings, or accompaniments (in part due to the difficulty of seasonings penetrating the often larger pieces of meat used in Western cooking). Many dairy products are utilised in the cooking process, except in nouvelle cuisine. Cheeses are produced in hundreds of different varieties, and fermented milk products are also available in a wide selection. Wheat-flour bread has long been the most common source of starch in this cuisine, along with pasta, dumplings and pastries, although the potato has become a major starch plant in the diet of Europeans and their diaspora since the European colonisation of the Americas, particularly in Northern Europe. Maize is much less common in most European diets than it is in the Americas; however corn meal (polenta or mămăligă), is a major part of the cuisine of Italy and the Balkans. Although flatbreads (especially with toppings such as pizza or tarte flambée), and rice are eaten in Europe, they do not constitute an ever-present staple. Salads (cold dishes with uncooked or cooked vegetables with sauce) are an integral part of European cuisine.
Formal European dinners are served in distinct courses. European presentation evolved from service à la française, or bringing multiple dishes to the table at once, into service à la russe, where dishes are presented sequentially. Usually, cold, hot and savoury, and sweet dishes are served strictly separately in this order, as hors d'oeuvre (appetizer) or soup, as entrée and main course, and as dessert. Dishes that are both sweet and savoury were common earlier in ancient Roman cuisine, but are today uncommon, with sweet dishes being served only as dessert. A service where the guests are free to take food by themselves is termed a buffet, and is usually restricted to parties or holidays. Nevertheless, guests are expected to follow the same pattern.
Historically, European cuisine has been developed in the European royal and noble courts. European nobility was usually arms-bearing and lived in separate manors in the countryside. The knife was the primary eating implement (cutlery), and eating steaks and other foods that require cutting followed. In contrast in the Sinosphere, the ruling class were the court officials, who had their food cut ready to eat in the kitchen, to be eaten with chopsticks. The knife was supplanted by the spoon for soups, while the fork was introduced later in the early modern period, ca. 16th century. Today, most dishes are intended to be eaten with cutlery and only a few finger foods can be eaten with the hands in polite company.Fruit syrup
Fruit syrups or fruit molasses are concentrated fruit juices used as sweeteners.
Fruit syrups have been used in many cuisines:
in Indian cuisine, drakshasava;
in Ancient Roman cuisine, defrutum, carenum, and sapa;
in Ancient Greek cuisine, epsima;
in Ottoman cuisine, pekmez;
in Greek cuisine, petimezi;
in Arab cuisine, rub, jallab.Some foods are made using fruit syrups or molasses:
Churchkhela, a sausage-shaped candy made from grape must and nutsIn modern industrial foods, they are often made from a less expensive fruit (such as apples, pears, or pineapples) and used to sweeten more expensive fruits or products and to extend their quantity. A typical use would be for an "all-fruit" strawberry spread that contains apple juice as well as strawberries.Gelato
Gelato (Italian pronunciation: [Gʒeˈlaːto]) is a frozen dessert popular in Italy. It is generally made with a base of 3.25% milk and sugar. It is generally lower in fat than other styles of frozen desserts. Gelato typically contains 70% less air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams. The Italian law requires gelato to have a minimum of 3.5% butterfat.Italian Eritrean cuisine
Italian Eritrean cuisine is the mix of Eritrean dishes and spices with Italian dishes.List of Italian restaurants
This is a list of notable Italian restaurants. Italian restaurants specialize in the preparation and purveyance of Italian cuisine.List of cuisines
The following is a list of cuisines. A cuisine is specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture or region. Each cuisine involves food preparation in a particular style, of food and drink of particular types, to produce individually consumed items or distinct meals. A cuisine is frequently named after the region or place where it originated. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. Religious food laws can also exercise a strong influence on such culinary practices.List of culinary herbs and spices
This is a list of culinary herbs and spices. Specifically these are food or drink additives of mostly botanical origin used in nutritionally insignificant quantities for flavoring or coloring.
This list does not contain fictional plants such as aglaophotis, or recreational drugs such as tobacco.
This list is not for plants used primarily for herbal teas, nor for purely medicinal plant products, such as valerian.List of historical cuisines
This list of historical cuisines lists cuisines from recent and ancient history by continent. Current cuisine is the subject of other articles.Lucanica
Lucanica was a short, fat, rustic pork sausage in Ancient Roman cuisine.
Apicius documents it as a spicy, smoked beef or pork sausage originally from Lucania; according to Cicero and Martial, it was brought by Roman troops or slaves from Lucania.It has given its name to a variety of sausages (fresh, cured, and smoked) in Mediterranean cuisine and its colonial offshoots, including:
Italian luganega or lucanica
Portuguese and Brazilian linguiça
Bulgarian lukanka or loukanka
Macedonian (Western dialects) lukanec/луканец or lukanci/луканци
Greek loukaniko, a fresh sausage usually flavored with orange peel
Spanish, Latin American, and Philippine longaniza, a name which covers both fresh and cured sausages
Arabic laqāniq, naqāniq, or maqāniq, made of mutton and some semolinaMoretum
Moretum is a type of herb cheese spread that the Ancient Romans ate with bread. A typical moretum was made of herbs, fresh cheese, salt, oil and some vinegar. Optionally, different kinds of nuts could be added. The contents were crushed together in a mortar, hence the name.Roman cuisine
Roman cuisine comes from the Italian city of Rome. It features fresh, seasonal and simply-prepared ingredients from Roman Campagna. These include peas, globe artichokes and fava beans, shellfish, milk-fed lamb and goat, and cheeses such as Pecorino Romano and ricotta. Olive oil is used mostly to dress raw vegetables, while strutto (pork lard) and fat from prosciutto are preferred for frying. The most popular sweets in Rome are small individual pastries called pasticcini, gelato (ice cream) and handmade chocolates and candies. Special dishes are often reserved for different days of the week; for example, gnocchi is eaten on Thursdays, baccalà (salted cod) on Fridays, and trippa on Saturdays.Roman food
Roman food may refer to:
Ancient Roman cuisine
Food and dining in the Roman Empire
Seada is a Sardinian dessert. It is prepared by deep-frying a large semolina dumpling (usually between 8 and 10 cm in diameter) with a filling of soured Pecorino cheese and lemon peel in olive oil or lard, and is served covered with honey, sugar and, sometimes, salt.Sicilian cuisine
Sicilian cuisine is the style of cooking on the island of Sicily. It shows traces of all cultures that have existed on the island of Sicily over the last two millennia. Although its cuisine has a lot in common with Italian cuisine, Sicilian food also has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences.The Sicilian cook Mithaecus, born during 5th century BC, is credited with having brought knowledge of Sicilian gastronomy to Greece: his cookbook was the first in Greek, therefore he was the earliest cookbook author in any language whose name is known.
Ancient Rome topics
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