Dining With The Romans

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Numerius was a slave and ate one meal a day consisting of gruel made with cracked wheat.While Spurius a plebian purchased his meals from street vendors,food shops and taverns located near large public buildings and bathhouses. Marius a patrician and a member of the Roman senate had the means and the influence to enjoy his meals that were cooked and served by slaves in one of two spacious dining areas within his home. Quintus a freedman lived in the country where he grew vegetables and raised some livestock for an absentee owner. He and his family ate fresh produce, mashed beans, bacon and cheese that were cooked with fresh herbs, olive oil and salt.

Breakfast was not much of a meal and it consisted of a cracked wheat porridge or bread dipped in wine that was mixed with honey and water. Depending upon one's status, dates or olives were included.

Cracked Wheat Porridge

1-cup Bulgar wheat, crushed 2-cups water 4-Tlbs. olive oil 1-tsp. salt

Directions: In a skillet, heat the olive oil and stir in the Bulgar wheat until it is well coated with the olive oil. Remove from heat and add the water and the salt. Drizzle some honey in the porridge for added sweetness. Serve with some fresh figs, dates or dried apricots.

Lunch was the midmeal of the day. For the majority of the Roman citizens, it was either purchased from the street vendors or food shops and taken home to enjoy. Plebians and freedmen ate bread, fruit, cheese or leftovers from last nights supper. Marius like the other patricians ate his lunch at home or purchased his food from the street vendors. Dinner was served late in the afternoon and it was the main meal of the day. The plebians and the freedmen ate their dinners at the taverns. The food was plentiful and the ingredients were fresh. Wine was diluted with honey and some water and served at every meal.

Grilled Sardines with Garum 8-whole sardines, grilled 4-cups grape juice 2-Tlbs. anchovy paste 1/4-tsp. oregano

Directions: Cook the grape juice until it is reduced down ot one-tenth of its volume. Mix in the anchovy paste and the oregano to the reduced down liquid. Grill the sardines and pour a portion of the garum sauce over them. Serve with some flat bread, ripe cheese and olives.

After a long day at the forum, Marius a Roman senator arrived at his spacious home where he was greeted by slaves. He joined his family and guests in the dining area where appetizers were being served from a bronzed donkey. Everyone took individual portions of hot sausages, dishes of olives, crabs, figs, bacon and tomatoes eating them with their hands. For the entree, a whole pig was cooked and swordsmen cut indivdual pieces for the diners. After the main meal, dessert was served in another dining area where the wine flowed like water. All types of fruit was offered by the slaves. Poppy seeds mixed with honey as well as sweet cakes mixed with honey, nuts and chopped fruits were a special treat.

Pork Roast With Prunes, Apricots and Figs 3 or 4 lb lean pork roast, with a slit cut into the side of it 1/2-cup dry prunes, apricots and figs, chopped 1-Tlb cooking oil 1/4-tsp salt 1/4-cup honey 1/2-cup water

Directions: Have the butcher cut a slit or a pocket into the side of the pork roast.In a sauce pan add the dried fruit, the honey and the water. Simmer the dried fruit until tender. Stuff the cooked fruit into the slit of the pork roast and tie it with a string. Rub the salt on both sides of the pork roast. In a skillet, heat the cooking oil and sear both sides of the pork roast Transfer it to a crock pot cooking for four hours on high and then turn it down to low four more hours. Test the done pork roast with a meat fork to make sure it is cooked through. The beverage of choice was Mulsum. Warm one-half cup of honey and add it to a bottle of Maderia dry white wine. Serve it chilled.

As soon as the sun went down, Quintus a freedman walked from the fields to his home where his wife and daughters were preparing fresh vegetables and a whole chicken stuffed with fresh herbs. Their gardens produced fresh vegetables and they raised chickens and pigs. Quintus had a small vineyard where he grew the grapes for his own wine. Tonight, they were making his favorite soup of broad beans that were mashed and seasoned with herbs,bacon and small chunks of cheese.

Broad Bean Soup 2-cups of small pasta, cooked 3-cups of broad beans,peeled 1-cup of bacon, precooked 1-onion,chopped 1/2-can tomato sauce 1/4-tsp pepper 1/4-teaspoon sea salt

Directions: In a soup pot or a dutch oven, saute the bacon and when it is almost done add the chopped onion and the tomato sauce.Add the peeled broad beans and the salt.Cover the beans with cold water. Simmer on medium low until the beans are tender. If they are dense after they are done cooking add more water. Pour in the cooked pasta.Let the soup cool and serve it with lots of pepper and pecorino cheese.Serve with a piece of flat bread and some olives.

1. Social Position And Food Of The Roman Empire. Jean Preston, Dr. Christian Renaud. December 2,1997. 2.Essay sample on: Ancient Roman Meals And Eating Habits. 3. Broad Bean Soup Recipe.

A love for ancient history, the author has studied some Philosophy and History.

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