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Back in the days in Ancient Rome, the meals were a ritual of the peoples daily
life. The Romans would eat anywhere from just a little bit of food to absolutely no food
for breakfast. The early Roman people would take their chief meal during the middle of
the day, but eventually a late afternoon started to become fashionable, and with it the
lunch consisted simply of left over food scraps from the previous nights meal. In
wealthy homes, there was also a formal dining room. The dinner party was the main
event of Roman social life, and it was in traditional form. In the dining room, there were
three couches, for three guests. When the host planned a small party, he made his guest
list to have between three and nine people dining. A party would begin in the early
afternoon, and run into the evening. The guests removed their shoes and took their
places on the couches, reclining on their left elbows before movable tables. The room
was often decorated with many flowers. First came the gustus, an appetizer course that
might include salads, shellfish, eggs and honey wine. Then came the cena, or dinner.
The hosts went to great lengths to achieve exotic novelty.
During the feasts, the guests were amused by professional entertainers. Then came a
second table of desserts, with cakes, fruits, nuts, and wine mixed with water. Each guest
had his own servant beside him to see to his comfort, to wash his hands between
courses, and to help him put his shoes on and light his way home. It was considered
good manners for the departing guest to take home tidbits.
There was no luxury seen at the tables of the poorer Romans. The traditional
staples were bread, olives, and grapes, with honey for sweetening. Most Romans of the
lower class ate little or no meat. What meat they did eat was usually mutton or pork.
Romans liked fruits, and generals returning from foreign service took special pride in
introducing new species from distant land. The poorer and
middle class Romans would look forward to going to the market, to trade and sell their
wares for food. Setting up shop early, peddlers would spend hours arranging the goods
that they would offer for sale, and set up an enticing display of the food products for
Another time that food is important is after a wedding in which the guests would
feast until night fall. Often the banquet would consist of mutton, pork, sows udders,
deer, turtle dove, and ham. The desserts would be dates stuffed with nuts and pine
kernels fried with honey, and sweet honey cakes. After the wedding party ended, the
guests would be offered pieces or the wedding cake made of meal that has been steeped
in new wine and then bakes on top of an assortment of fresh bay leaves. Then the bridal
party would proceed to the home of the bridegroom, joined by flutists and boys who
would chant cheerful songs and melodies. Nuts, symbolizing fertility, strength, and
stamina were kindly distributed to many people along the way to the bridegrooms house
as a token of kindness and good. Back at the bridegrooms housing quarters the bride
would apply a rich slathering of corn or olive oil (which is used in food, which means
this does correspond with Roman food) and would hang long flowing ribbons of high
grade wool fabric on the door and door posts of the bridegrooms house.
Wine, which is made from grapes, is another fine example of a ritual consumption
product of the Romans. A vast majority of the Roman people would make their own
wine, which is made from grapes, by themselves instead of purchasing it, to save money
and to be sure of quality. The Romans fondness and passion for food and beverage
makes them good hosts due to the fact of there vast knowledge of the subject of
enjoyable and tasteful food and beverage (wine) consumption. Its is not of the unusual
manor for a Roman person to offer a traveler to come into his home and offer the
traveler some fine bread, salami, large fresh shinny black olive, and some of his very
own home made wine.
In conclusion to this report on the total experience of Roman Food, from the
consumption to the every day common ritual and procedure to eating the food, to the
presentation of the food, and even to the common procedure of a “dinner party” with
guests, The Romans were
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Ancient Roman society, Ancient Roman cuisine, Wine, Cena, Cake, Food and dining in the Roman Empire, Ancient Israelite cuisine
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