The ancient Romans were similar to todays generations in their eating habits but never ate three hearty meals a day. Ientaculum and prandium were merely appetizers that filled their stomachs unitl the large cena, the event they look forward to since awakening. They had names for their meals similar to ours, breakfast (ientaculum), lunch (prandium), and dinner (cena).

Breakfast, ientaculum was usually taken about nine o’clock and consisted of merely a few pieces of bread sprinkled in salt or dipped in wine, and with a few raisins and olives, and a little cheese added. The poorest Romans ate little other than wheat either crushed to make a porridge or ground into flour for bread.

Lunch, or prandium was usually taken at noon. It was usually nothing more than a piece of bread accompanied by cold meat, vegetables, and fruit washed down with a glass of wine. Both ientaculum and prandium were so short there was no need to set the table or wash ones hands.

The only serious meal was the evening dinner or cena. Dinner time was practically the same for all Romans due to the lack of artificial light. Dinner was after the bath at the end of the eigth hour in winter and at the ninth in summer. The food is mostly cold,-breads, salads, olives, cheeses, and meats remaing from last nights dinner. Occasionally, hot dishes such as ham and pig’s heads are feasted upon. Some wealthy Romans would have as many as seven courses to feed on.

Trimalchio, a wealthy Roman would have a bronzed donkey with appetizer dishes of olives, stuffed dormice rolled in honey and poppy seed, hot sausages were laid on a silver grill next to pomegranate and damson seeds. The guests were still busy with the hors d’oeuvres when a tray would be brought in with a basket on it, in which there was a wooden hen spreading her wings. Under the straw were Peahen eggs that would base passed out. Each egg contained a fat becafico rolled up in spiced egg yolkf. There were plates with the twelve signs of Zodiac on them that had food matas ching the symbol, ram, bull, crab, figs, lion, etc. Some hosts would heat a wfshole pig and then entertain his guests by having skilled swordmen carve the pa fig like he was killing it. After eating, many guests would entertain each othed sfr in belching. It was considered polite to belch and release wind after a ni sce meal. Guests would simply snap their fingers and servants would come running with vases to contain urine. Spitting was also allowed on the floors of the triclinium.

It is hard to imagine eating after a large dinner but dessert was next. In rich homes, dessert would be served after a bath and then led into a second dining room where wine flowed like water. Dessert consisted of every kind of fruit imaginable. Poppy-seed mixed with honey is a standard dish for dessert

The majority of the common Romans baked bread in public bakeries. The standard loaves are made very flat, about two inches thick, and marked with notches on the top. There were three kinds of grains used to make bread. Coarse grain (panis sordidus) for the common people. Panis secundus for the higher class and the very white and sweet siligincus for the rich. At feasts there will be wonderful pastry castles and sweet cakes truly amazing with the use of honey, chopped fruits, and nuts.

Vegetables and fruits were plenitful in Rome. For many miles one could see gardens that send artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, cucumber, lentils, melons, onions, peas, and pumpkins into the city. Garlic is also very popular in Roman dishes. Italy was an excellent fruit country and apples, pears, plums, grapes, and quinces were common in the markets. A wide selection of nuts including walnuts, filberts, and almonds were used in cooking and jsut plain eating. Peaches, apricots, cherries, and pomegranates were found in Rome but were not as abundant. Salad greens were in great demand in Rome.

The demand for meat in Rome was constantly increasing as the years went by. Butcher shops became more popular which allowed poor people the opportunity to get meat. The poor people would buy goat’s flesh which