The Roman empire was one of the most flourishing empires in ancient times. Ancient Roman cuisine was very much influenced by other regions as the empire expanded through political expansion. There was great variation between how the nobles ate and the diet of the common people. The rich people ate a very lavish meal with wine flowing freely in such meals. The rich Romans were well-known for the food extravagances and food was often used as a show of wealth and prosperity. The common people on the other hand had to sustain themselves on grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Ancient Roman Food and Drink
The ancient Rome food consisted of breakfast, lunch, and dinner and was known as jentaculum, prandium, and cena respectively. Breakfast, known as Jentaculum, was consumed in the early morning, and it consisted of bread with a bit of salt, cheese, wheat pancakes, honey, olives, and dates. A late lunch, known as prandium, consisted of bread with cheese, eggs, grapes, olives, and crackers.
The Cena, which is dinner, was the main meal for the Romans and lasted well into the night particularly if there were guests invited for dinner. The main food that was served during cena was a kind of porridge called puls made with Emmer wheat, salt, olive oil, and water. Richer romans usually ate an accompaniment of vegetables, meat, as well as fish with the porridge.
As time elapsed, cena became more and more gourmet, and rich Romans used to throw the most lavish dinner parties. The cena was soon divided into three courses, the appetizer, main course, and desserts. The Romans used to sit on couches with platters of food being served while they listened to music and enjoyed other entertainment.
Wine was served in such banquets, which was usually watered down and warmed, as the Romans considered it barbaric to drink undiluted wine. These parties lasted well past midnight, and there were usually six to seven choices in entrees and a wide selection of appetizers and desserts. Appetizers known as gustatio consisted of rich salads, oysters, eggs, fish, olives, zucchini, pickled vegetables, like asparagus, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, and radishes. The appetizers were usually served with a drink made by mixing wine with honey.
The main course was extravagant and usually employed complicated and complex cooking techniques. Main course consisted of poultry, meat, and fish dishes with pork being the most favored meat in ancient Rome. All parts of a pig was used for making quite a lot of dishes. Suckling pig, that were stuffed and then roasted whole, was also quite popular in ancient Rome. Along with pork, other meat that was part of ancient Rome food were lamb, venison, wild boar, and rabbit. Birds like chicken, goose, duck, pheasant, pigeons, and crane was used for making many dishes. Ancient Roman food also included birds, like peacocks and capons that were consumed on special occasions.
Sausages made with pork meat and blood was considered a delicacy in ancient Roman cuisine. Flavoring to food was added in the form of a sauce called garum which was made by fermenting salted fish intestines. Dessert consisted of fruits, like figs, grapes, dates, apricots, and pears served with honey. Some fruits and vegetables that were not known to the Romans were tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, and chili pepper. Black pepper was imported from the East and was widely used as seasoning in Roman food.
Ancient Roman aristocracy was well-known for their food extravagances, which contributed to their expanding waistlines. The common people on the other hand had a more balanced as well as frugal meal.