The average Roman meal?

Commander

Historum Emeritas
Jun 2006
1,362
Jacksonville, FL
#1
Time period ... 100-200 AD. What would be the average Roman's meal? Did it consist of mostly grains or were they quite the fishermen?
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#3
Commander said:
Time period ... 100-200 AD. What would be the average Roman's meal? Did it consist of mostly grains or were they quite the fishermen?
As chance would have it, my wife has a Roman cookery book. A translation of M. Gavius Apicus!

The poor lived on a gruel called "pumentos" made from barley and wheat. Their bread was coarse usually eaten dry or dipped in wine. When they could get meat this was usually put into a stew with wheat and vegeatables.

The avarage Roman had three meals a day;
Breakfast "ientaculum" consisted of bread and honey with dates and olives. Maybe some wine to dip the bread in
Lunch, "prandium" was usually cold meats with bread and fruit.
Dinner "cena" was the chief meal of the day consisting of three main courses, at least one of which was meat or fish. Pork was apparently the most popular meat, served up with rich sauces [possibly to disguise the taste if the meat or fish was rancid].
 
Jun 2010
1,935
Dehradun
#4
according to localhistories dot org/rome dot html ...

A Roman dining room was called a triclinium.

The Romans were also very fond of fish sauce called liquamen. They also liked oysters, which were exported from Britain.
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
#5
As chance would have it, my wife has a Roman cookery book. A translation of M. Gavius Apicus!

The poor lived on a gruel called "pumentos" made from barley and wheat. Their bread was coarse usually eaten dry or dipped in wine. When they could get meat this was usually put into a stew with wheat and vegeatables.

The avarage Roman had three meals a day;
Breakfast "ientaculum" consisted of bread and honey with dates and olives. Maybe some wine to dip the bread in
Lunch, "prandium" was usually cold meats with bread and fruit.
Dinner "cena" was the chief meal of the day consisting of three main courses, at least one of which was meat or fish. Pork was apparently the most popular meat, served up with rich sauces [possibly to disguise the taste if the meat or fish was rancid].
I would think the average Roman would be poor, no?
 
Dec 2008
764
Vancouver-by-the-Sea
#6
They also liked oysters, which were exported from Britain.
That I very much doubt, given the lack of transportation infrastructure any Oyster shipped from Britain to Rome would be dead before it hit the continent.

OTOH the Mediterranean was chock full of all kinds of seafood including Oysters.

Wikipedia gives the date of the first efforts of Oyster Farming in present day Italy as the 1st century BC (by Romans).

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster_farming"]Oyster farming - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
#7
That I very much doubt, given the lack of transportation infrastructure any Oyster shipped from Britain to Rome would be dead before it hit the continent.

OTOH the Mediterranean was chock full of all kinds of seafood including Oysters.

Wikipedia gives the date of the first efforts of Oyster Farming in present day Italy as the 1st century BC (by Romans).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster_farming
Could be fished off the shores of Britain, with the catch unloaded in Gaul. Once there it could plausibly be delivered to Rome in time; relays could cover 1000 miles in 2 days. It's not plausible that this would be anything other than an extremely expensive delicacy for the extravagantly wealthy, though. There may have been some species there considered a delicacy.

From your own link (why do people do this?):

It was practiced by the ancient Romans as early as the 1st century BC on the Italian peninsula and later in Britain for export to Rome.
 
Mar 2010
1,904
OZ
#8
I found this bit of info, i just love everyday life in ancient Rome! :D


Roman writer Petronius wrote about his eating experiences in around AD 60:

"After a generous rubdown with oil, we put on dinner clothes. We were taken into the next room where we found three couches drawn up and a table, very luxuriously laid out, awaiting us.
We were invited to take our seats. Immediately, Egyptian slaves came in and poured ice water over our hands. The starters were served. On a large tray stood a donkey made of bronze. On its back were two baskets, one holding green olives, and the other black. On either side were dormice, dipped in honey and rolled in poppy seed. nearby, on a silver grill, piping hot, lay small sausages. As for wine, we were fairly swimming in it."
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#9
I would think the average Roman would be poor, no?
Not necessarily. There was a farming and trading "middle" class, freedman, etc. of varying wealth; as is demonstrated in Pompeii and Herculanium, were large numbers of shops, bars, have been uncovered. The rich had to buy from someone. :D

Perhaps I'm using a 21st Century definition of "average"? :)
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
#10
Not necessarily. There was a farming and trading "middle" class, freedman, etc. of varying wealth; as is demonstrated in Pompeii and Herculanium, were large numbers of shops, bars, have been uncovered.
Right, but I think the size of that class was fairly limited. Pompeii and Herculaneum weren't your typical settlements; they were resort towns.


Perhaps I'm using a 21st Century definition of "average"? :)
A very localized one, perhaps. In our "global village", the average person is still quite poor.
 

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