Roman Food: A Brief Explanation Of How The Roman Empire Impacted Modern-Day Cuisine In Europe And Britain.
A lot of the food we presently enjoy in Britain can be attributed to the Romans. Their influence on British cuisine predates their conquest of the region, as they were already trading with us, sending us wine and olive oil in return for tin and lead.
Then, after the Roman conquest , they introduced many food items that greatly enriched the British diet. Among these were vegetables such as carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, celery, peas, and radishes. Furthermore, fruits such as figs, cherries, and plums found their way into British gardens. The Romans also bestowed upon the British culinary landscape fish sauce, a sought-after ingredient that permeated various recipes. The infusion of herbs and spices, notably rosemary, coriander, garlic, and basil, further enriched the gastronomic repertoire.
Why did they cultivate grapes here? The answer lies in the prohibitive cost of importing wine. So grape cultivation was undertaken to produce wine domestically. And we still produce it today.
Fast Food In Roman Britain
The romans also introduced fast food!
They pioneered a form of fast food establishments referred to as “thermopolia,” where individuals could grab a dish or two.
Agriculture received paramount attention from the Romans, who gleaned agricultural knowledge from diverse sources, thus ensuring dietary diversity.
Their meals had names we no longer recognise. “Ian taculum” referred to breakfast, which often comprised pancakes or bread served with honey and dates. “Prandium,” the midday repast, included bread, vegetables, and, for those more fortunate, cold meats or fish. (Anyone for a post-prandial stroll? The Romans introduced prandium to us). Conversely, “Senna,” the dinner repast for those with more modest means, featured porridge and vegetables seasoned with herbs.
Conversely, for the affluent, dinner was an opulent affair, characterised by multiple courses of exotic fare. This culinary extravagance encompassed a wide array of animals and avian species, including wild boar, deer, goats, lambs, hares, dormice, chickens, geese, pigeons, pheasants, and even peacocks.
These grandiose dinner gatherings transpired within designated dining rooms, known as “triclinium.”
Guests would recline on couches around square tables, partaking in meals using their fingers, in adherence to Roman custom. Just like Hollywood showed us in many Roman inspired films. In a rather peculiar practice, servants attended to the hygiene of guests’ hands and provided chamber pots to facilitate personal comfort. These dinners, at times, extended for an astonishing duration of eight hours. According to the writer Seneca, it was not uncommon for diners to engage in emetic practices to continue indulging in the culinary delights presented before them.
Was this the ancient form os an All you can eat menu? good
At least they couldn’t go for an Indian, as that treat came to the UK much later.
There’s more on what the Romans did for gardeners via the link.
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