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Roman Meals. Latin I 2013. Let’s Eat!. Most Romans were poor. “Bread and Circuses” Annona ---welfare tokens Alimenta ---similar to our WIC program for kids Daily food in the city for the lower classes would have had little variety: bread, vegetables, meat on occasion

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Roman meals

Roman Meals

Latin I


Let s eat
Let’s Eat!

  • Most Romans were poor.

  • “Bread and Circuses”

  • Annona---welfare tokens

  • Alimenta---similar to our WIC program for kids

  • Daily food in the city for the lower classes would have had little variety: bread, vegetables, meat on occasion

  • Wealthy Romans enjoyed a wide range of food.

Your meals
Your Meals

  • ientaculum: breakfast (usually bread dipped in oil or wine; wealthier people might add fruit, cheese, etc.)

  • prandium: lunch (a light meal, usually cold leftovers)

  • cena: dinner (largest meal of the day, might start as early as 3 PM)

Where did food come from
Where Did Food Come From?

  • Markets: vegetables, fish, poultry, meat, fruits

  • Thermopolium: take-out shop

  • Pistrina: bakery

  • Only the wealthy had culinae (kitchens) in their homes

Common foods
Common Foods

  • Bread

  • Poultry/fish

  • Vegetables

  • Meat: for the poor, on rare ocassions such as public sacrifices

What the romans did not have
What the Romans did NOT have…

  • rice strawberries

  • pasta raspberries

  • tomatoes coffee

  • potatoes tea

  • sugar hard liquor

  • corn butter

  • oranges chocolate

  • bananas

Roman meals

  • Instead of butter, they used olive oil

  • Instead of pasta, they used thin pancakes

  • Romans had many varieties of wine from all over the Empire---wine was always mixed with water (to make different strengths)

Fishy business
Fishy Business!

  • Garum, aka liquamen

  • “Fish sauce” or “fish pickle”

  • Made from the heads, bones, and entrails of fish which decomposed in a strong brine

Don t think it s around today
Don’t think it’s around today?!

Vinegar, Molasses, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Anchovies, Water, Onions, Salt, Garlic, Tamarind Concentrate, Cloves, Natural Flavorings, Chili Pepper Extract.

A dinner party
A Dinner Party

  • Triclinium--- “tri”=“three”, literally 3 couches, 3 people per couch (the ideal number for a dinner party)

  • Guests reclined to eat, resting on the left elbow

  • Slaves would remove guests’ sandals and wash their feet


  • Wealthy parties would feature exotic foods such as peacock and flamingo

  • Often cooks would present food disguised as something else (such as a pig that looked like a chicken, or cakes made to look like boiled eggs)


  • Spoons, plates, bowls, goblets

  • No forks

  • Slaves carved meat into small pieces before it was sent to the table

  • Most eating was done with the fingers


  • Appetizer: gustatio

    • eggs, shellfish, salad, mulsum---honeyed wine

  • Main course: fercula

    • several courses, odd number, the chief dish would be served in the middle

  • Pause for libation to the gods

  • Dessert: secundamensa (“second table”)

    • fruits, sometimes pastries

  • Sometimes slaves would replace the entire table top for dessert…that’s why it was called “second table”

Roman dinner party project
Roman Dinner Party Project!

  • You must invite 8 guests (and yourself) for the nine diners. The guests can be anyone, real or fiction, living or dead.

  • Draw out your seating chart and show who will sit where.

  • Using web resources, plan your dinner with the gustatio, fercula, and secundamensa. Make a menu with the Latin and English recipe names. Include a description of the dish.

  • Plan your entertainment. The Romans enjoyed poetry, dancers, music, acrobats, and so forth. You can use modern entertainers if you’d like.

What you ll turn in
What you’ll turn in:

  • On unlined paper:

    • Your Roman-style seating chart/guests’ names (point out who is the guest of honor)

    • Your decorated menu. Include the entertainment at the bottom.

      • gustatio (appetizers), fercula (main course), secundamensa (dessert)---include a description of each dish in English.

    • Work should be historically accurate, neatly done (preferably typed or printed), and show off all your research!

Roman meals

Menu: gustatio(at least 2 dishes) 20 pts

fercula (at least 3 dishes) 20 pts

secundamensa(1 or more dish) 20 pts

Seating chart: 8 guests 10 pts

Seating chart diagram 10 pts

Entertainment:10 pts

Neatness/layout: 10 pts

TOTAL 100 points