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Eating InEmperor Hadrian



We know that the Ancient Romans enjoyed their food because many texts from those times have survived describing meals, and there are even Ancient Roman recipe books!

The evening meal, the main meal of the day, would have brought the whole family together.

Other meals, such as breakfast, were simple affairs.

The food would have been served on low tables with the family lying beside the table on soft cushions.

The Romans did not use forks but helped themselves to the food with their fingers. They would have had a knife for cutting bread and meat.

Rich Romans would have had slaves to cut their food for them at dinner.

The food would often have been garnished with Sauces, Herbs and Spices.

A favourite flavouring for all kinds of food was Garam - a fermented and highly flavoured fish sauce.

Poorer Romans and slaves would have survived for much of the time on a poor diet of bread, and a wheatmeal porridge called puls.

The very rich Romans, may at times have had very extravagant feasts at which exotic foods such as ostrich, wild boar, giraffe, songbirds and thrushes, and even roast dormice!

Scroll down the page to find out what "Second Table" meant to the Ancient Romans. There is also a picture of a bowl of figs.

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A bust of the Emperor Hadrian (c)2000 Princeton Economic Institute justin Paola - Ancient Rome History Resource Hadrians Roman Life in the times of Emperor Hadrian

The Emperor Hadrian ruled for 21 years from A.D. 117 until A.D. 138, when the Empire of Ancient Rome was at its height.

The Emperor Hadrian consolidated and strengthened The Roman Empire. He was The Roman Emperor responsible for the building of Hadrian's Wall in England.

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Second Table

Though dinner for poorer Romans might consist of bread (made from Emmer Wheat) and olive oil, usually dinner for the better-off Romans consisted of three courses.

An interesting fact is that the last course was called the "secundae mensae", which literally means "second table".

This name arose from the custom of removing the entire table and replacing it with another loaded with the final desert course.

The final course might have consisted of various fruits, honey cakes, nuts and sweet sauces.

Remember that the Roman Society included the very poor and the very rich, meals would have varied according to the family's means.


Glass Bowl Containing Roman Figs

Glass Bowl Containing Roman Figs.

Detail from Ancient Roman wall painting depicting a glass bowl containing figs first century CE.
Oplontis, Roman villa.
Source: www.vroma.org


Ancient Roman Silver Ladle

Ancient Roman Silver Ladle.

Photograph of an Ancient Roman silver ladle with swan's-head handle.
Madrid, Archaeological Museum. Credits: Barbara McManus, 1985
Source: www.vroma.org


Ancient Roman Silver Pitcher and Silver Bowl

Ancient Roman Silver Pitcher and Silver Bowl.

Photograph of an Ancient Roman silver pitcher and silver bowl 1st-3rd century CE.
This pitcher and bowl could have been used by high status Romans during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. London, British Museum. Credits: Barbara McManus, 1986
Source: www.vroma.org


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