So, what did the ancient Romans eat?
However, archaeologists researching the ancient Roman fort of Vindolanda have uncovered a fascinating insight into what the wealthier Roman classes with their discovery of what is now known as the Vindolanda tablets. It turns out that the diet of these particular inhabitants of was pretty varied. Within the Vindolanda tablets, 46 different types of foodstuff are mentioned. Whilst the more exotic of these, such as roe deer, venison, spices, olives, wine and honey, appear in the letters and accounts of the slaves attached to the commander's house; it is clear that the soldiers and ordinary people around the fort did not eat badly. We have already seen the grain accounts of the brothers Octavius and Candidus, demonstrating that a wide variety of people in and around the fort were supplied with wheat.
Added to that are a couple of interesting accounts and letters which show that the ordinary soldiers could get hold of such luxuries as pepper and oysters, and that the local butcher was doing a roaring trade in bacon.
8 lambs kidneys.
2 heaped tspn fennel seed (dry roasted in pan).
1 heaped tspn whole pepper corns.
4 oz pine nuts.
1 large handful fresh coriander.
2 tbspn olive oil.
2 tbspn fish sauce.
4 oz pigs caul or large sausage skins.
Skin the kidney, split in half and remove the fat and fibres. In a mortar, pound the fennel seed with the pepper to a coarse powder. Add this to a food processor with the pine nuts. Add the washed and chopped coriander and process to a uniform consistency. Divide the mixture into 8 and place in the centre of each kidney and close them up. If you have caul use it to wrap the kidneys up to prevent the stuffing coming out. Similarly stuff the kidney inside the sausage skin. Heat the oil and seal the kidneys in a frying pan. Transfer to an oven dish and add the fish sauce. Finish cooking in a medium oven. Serve as a starter or light snack with crusty bread and a little of the juice.
1½ lb firm pears.
10fl oz red wine.
2 oz raisins.
4 oz honey.
1 tspn ground cumin.
1 tbspn olive oil.
2 tbspn fish sauce.
plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Peel and core the pears and cook in the wine, honey and raisins until tender.
Strain and process the fruit and return to the cooking liquor. Add the cumin, oil and fish sauce and the eggs well beaten. Pour into a greased shallow dish and bake in a preheated oven (375º F) for 20 mins or until set. Let the custard stand for 10 mins before serving warm.
10 oz ricotta cheese.
2½ oz plain flour.
Beat the cheese with the egg and add the sieved flour very slowly and gently. Flour your hands and pat mixture into a ball and place it on a bay leaf on a baking tray.
Place in moderate oven (400ºF) until set and slightly risen. Place cake on serving plate and score the top with a cross. our plenty of runny honey over the cross and serve immediately.
Of course, no Roman meal is complete without a side order of Roman bread!
He lived sometime in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Tiberius.
The Roman cookbook Apicius is often, but incorrectly, attributed to him.
So down to business, how do you make Roman bread?
350ml warm water
1/2 a finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon of active dried yeast
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
A large pinch of dried rosemary
To begin with, dissolve the honey into the warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Mix together with a spoon and leave for 10 minutes until frothy. Put the finely chopped onion, flour and salt into a bowl, then add the oil and yeast mixture. Knead the mix until it smooth and no longer sticky - you may need to add a little more flour to achieve this.
There are two choices that you cvan make now depending on the type of bread you want to end up with.
1. Flat bread
Place the dough into well oiled bowl, turning it over to give it a fine coat of oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size. This will take about 1 hour.
When ready, punch the dough back down, the flatten it out onto an oiled cookie sheet to about an inch thick.
Sprinkle with salt and the dried Rosemary. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, then serve hot.
Divide the dough into three and then knead each piece on a lightly floured board until smooth and round. Shape each piece into a ball then flatten slightly with the palm of your hand and mark the top into portions with a sharp knife - 8 in this instance.
Place into floured bowl then cover with a damp cloth and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size. This will take about 1 hour.
Place onto a lightly oiled baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at a temperature of 230 degrees Celsius, 450 Fahrenheit or gas mark 8 for 20- 30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven. They should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, of not, put back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes.
Cool on a wire tray. Your Roman bread can be eaten within 36 hours or can be frozen and eaten at a later date. If you have any further 'Roman recipes' then don't hesitate to send them to me using the comments
What did Gladiators eat?
The ancient Roman gladiators have been a source of fascination for thousands of years. And as modern day archaeologists and historians uncover more about their lives, our hunger to find out more about the Roman gladiator seems to increase.
So you want to know what gladiators ate? Research by Karl Grossschmidt, a paleo-pathologist at the Medical University of Vienna has managed to give an insight into this unglamorous side to the gladiators life!
Contemporary accounts of gladiator life sometimes referred to the ancient wariors as hordearii - literally meaning 'barley men'. To find out more, Grossschmidt and collaborator Fabian Kanz subjected bits of bone uncovered at the gladiator graveyard in Ephesus - in what is now western Turkey- to isotopic analysis. This is a technique that measures trace chemical elements such as calcium, strontium, and zinc. The biggest revelation to come out of the Ephesus cemetery is what kept the gladiators alive - a vegetarian diet rich in carbohydrates, with the occasional calcium supplement.
They also managed to turn up some other surprising results. Compared to the average inhabitant of Ephesus, gladiators ate more plants and very little animal protein. The vegetarian diet had nothing to do with poverty or animal rights. Gladiators, it seems, were fat. Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates, such as barley, and legumes, like beans, was designed for survival in the arena. Packing in the carbs also packed on the pounds.
But a diet of barley and vegetables would have left the fighters with a serious calcium deficit. To keep their bones strong, historical accounts say, they downed vile brews of charred wood or bone ash, both of which are rich in calcium. Whatever the exact formula, the stuff worked. Grossschmidt says that the calcium levels in the gladiator bones were "exorbitant" compared to the general population. "Many athletes today have to take calcium supplements," he says. "They knew that then, too."
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Based on an article by http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/recipes_01.shtml
Photo care of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Roman_writing_tablet_02.jpg - Michael Wall and http://eternallycool.net/2007/09/how-to-host-an-ancient-roman-banquet/ and http://beestonquakers.blogspot.com/2008/04/did-romans-eat-bananas.html and http://cookit.e2bn.org/historycookbook/30-332-romano-british-Food-facts.html and http://dream-designs.net/roxalana/?cat=31 and http://www.cookaround.com/yabbse1/showthread.php?t=55304