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Old November 21st, 2012, 12:13 PM   #1
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Dining out in ancient times?


Hey, I just had a few questions for anyone who has studied cuisine of ancient times [Greece, Rome...], and specifically how people ate [in cities, not at home].
--Were there vendors in the city streets selling food? And if so, did they just have one thing on the menu per day, or was there minor/major variety in options? And what was the food served on?
--Tied into the question above, was there any type of disposable dining ware vendors distributed food in [large leaves, etc.], or did people have cups and plates and forks/knives they took from their home to these places?
Thanks-- trying to write a book with a fictional city, but with ancient-era technology.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 12:19 PM   #2
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you can do a search on the internet
:

got this on the net.http://http://romewiki.wetpaint.com/...n+Ancient+Rome


For people dining in Ancient Rome, meals centered around corn (grain), oil and wine, and for the wealthy, different types of exotic foods. Cereals were the staple food, originally in the form of husked wheat (far) being made into porridge (puls), but later naked wheat ( frumentum) was made into bread. Bread was the most often eaten food in Ancient Rome, and was sometimes sweetened with honey or cheese and was eaten with sausage, domestic fowl, game, eggs, fish, or shellfish.


Fish and oysters were especially popular, while meat, especially pork was also popular. Elsewhere in Rome, delicacies such as snails or dormice were specially bred. Varieties of cakes, pastries and tarts were made both commercially and at home, and were often sweetened with honey. Vegetables, such as cabbage and parsnips, lettuce, asparagus, onion, garlic, marrows, radishes, lentils ,beans, and beets were imported. Fruits and nuts were also available, as was a variety of strongly flavored sauces, spices and herbs, which became very popular in Roman cuisine. The only true literary source ever devoted to Roman food was a cookbook attributed to Apicus.

Romans loved wine, but they drank it watered down, spiced and heated. Undiluted wine was considered to be barbaric, and wine concentrate diluted with water was also common.

Pasca was probably popular among the lower classes. It was a drink made from watering down acetum, low quality wine similar to vinegar. Beer and mead were most commonly drunk in the northern provinces. Milk, mostly from sheep and goats, was considered to be barbaric and was therefore used for making cheese and medicine.

Last edited by Gorge123; November 21st, 2012 at 01:48 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 12:28 PM   #3
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Also for Greece: (from the net) http://http://greekfood.about.com/od/quenstionsanswers/f/ancientfood.htm


The Greek diet consisted of foods that were easily raised in the rocky terrain of Greece’s landscape. Breakfast was eaten just after sunrise and consisted of bread dipped in wine. Lunch was again bread dipped in wine along with some olives, figs, cheese or dried fish.

Supper was the main meal of each day. It was eaten near sunset. It consisted of vegetables, fruit, fish, and possibly honey cakes. Sugar was unknown to ancient Greeks, so natural honey was used as a sweetener.

Fish was the main source of protein in the Greek diet. Beef was very expensive, so it was rarely eaten. Beef and pork were only available to poor people during religious festivals. It was during the festivals that cows or pigs were sacrificed to the gods, and the meat was cooked and handed out to the public.

Wine was the main drink in ancient Greece. It was watered down; to drink it straight was considered barbaric. Milk was rarely drunk, because again, it was considered barbaric. Milk was used for cheese production. Water was another possible choice as a drink.

The Greeks did not have any eating utensils, so they ate with their hands. Bread was often used to scoop out thick soups. Bread was also used as a napkin to clean hands. After being used as a napkin, the bread was then thrown on the floor for the dogs or slaves to clean up at a later time.

Men often gathered for dinner parties called symposiums. Having guests in the house was a “male-only” affair. Women of the house were not permitted to attend. After giving a wine offering to the gods, the men drank and talked about politics or morals. Often young girls and boys would be employed to entertain guests with music and dance.

Last edited by Gorge123; November 21st, 2012 at 02:16 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:20 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorge123 View Post
got this on the net.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorge123 View Post
Also for Greece: (from the net)

Gorge123, if you take something from another website and reproduce it here, you need to provide a link to the source to properly attribute ownership of the material.

Please do this.

thanks
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:46 PM   #5
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Gorge123, if you take something from another website and reproduce it here, you need to provide a link to the source to properly attribute ownership of the material.

Please do this.

thanks
ok will do that sorry
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Old November 21st, 2012, 02:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpiano View Post
Hey, I just had a few questions for anyone who has studied cuisine of ancient times [Greece, Rome...], and specifically how people ate [in cities, not at home].
--Were there vendors in the city streets selling food? And if so, did they just have one thing on the menu per day, or was there minor/major variety in options? And what was the food served on?
--Tied into the question above, was there any type of disposable dining ware vendors distributed food in [large leaves, etc.], or did people have cups and plates and forks/knives they took from their home to these places?
Thanks-- trying to write a book with a fictional city, but with ancient-era technology.
Which one do you want any type cuisine and stuff?
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorge123 View Post
Which one do you want any type cuisine and stuff?
Actually I'm looking more for the things they ate on than the foods-- that will be specific to the society I'm thinking of. But in regards to the former... when people 'ate out', did they sit down in these places, with the restaurant's dining ware? Was it common for citizens to eat/drink while walking/traveling, and if so how did they do so?
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Old December 1st, 2012, 06:13 PM   #8

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If you lived in the UK, you'd have been able to see Mary Beard's excellent series on the Romans on BBC2 this year, where she discussed this very subject (amongst other things) I'll do a bit of name-dropping and tell you that Mary is Head of Classics at Cambridge and taught my daughter who graduated in Classics from Cambridge two years, and I know Mary and she's brilliant. Anyway in Rome and other large conurbations, it seems that most people ate out in bars or at fast food outlets or street vendors, only the better off put on full dinner parties or dined at home with food prepared at home (by slaves.) Yes they would sit down to eat, or stand up at the bar, just as these days in Italy you can be served "a tavolo" at the table or "a banco" at the bar, but you pay a service charge for being served at the table.

Pottery was the common dining ware, the Romans had a huge international pottery trade that spanned the entire Empire, much of it from Britain, Gaul and the Rhineland. Metal plates etc were usually silver, or bronze, or gold and would be mostly the property of the wealthy, but cheap pottery was widely available, or the more expensive Samian ware if you wanted to splash out. Very poor people might use stale bread as a plate but seriously, mass produced pottery was so cheap and easily available that you'd have to be a rustic pauper or begging in the streets to be eating off stale bread.

Most ordinary people didn't travel far, unless on business (merchants, civil servants etc) and there were inns and taverns were a bed could be hired for the night, a stabling for a horse, maybe a prostitute if you wanted one. Anyone on government business could use one of the official posting stations of which there were plenty and get a bath and a change of horse, as long as they had the appropriate permit. This Imperial travel system was hugely abused by the way, free board and lodging from one end of the Empire to the other? Everyone tried to get a bit of that when they could if they had to travel. As far as Joe Public was concerned, he was either a slave and couldn't go anywhere anyway, or had a trade which kept him near home, or worked on a farm (the economy was always largely rural) or was part of the urban proletariat who lived on the dole and the patronage of either a rich citizen or later the Imperial government. Leisure travel was the preserve of the very wealthy and if you wanted to go long distance you went on a boat as the great roads were largely for official business and sanctioned trade only. You might travel within your region to nearby towns and maybe up to Rome once, maybe several times in your life if you lived in Italy, but most ordinary people didn't go far.

Later in the Empire, trades became fixed and people were forbidden to change jobs, a son had to continue in his father's trade, social mobility declined, and travel became severely curtailed both by decree and increasing insecurity, due to civil wars, barbarian inroads and banditry.
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