Have you ever looked at food and wondered what its’ origins are? Have you ever been curious as to the origins of your favorite dish but never knew how to ascertain its’ history. Well luckily there are food historians who can inform people about these things. Below is a list of ten common staple (and non-staple) foods from the Roman Empire that still survive after two-thousand years of history.
1. ‘Panis Primis’ or bread coming from grains (non-wheat) that is not unlike the bread of today. Similar to bread now, back then it was also a food for the common person and was not considered a luxury. Although some higher quality breads were inaccessible for the non-noble back then, they still existed in large quantities.
2. Fish Sauce from the Mackerel was considered of the top quality in Classical Roman times and is still enjoyed to this day in the Mediterranean.
3. Bay Leaves were used back then similar to the way they are used today and were one of the major herbs of the times. Even today bay leaves are hugely popular although they are currently better known as a Turkish staple.
4. Oregano is still a staple in modern Italian food and definitely had to be considered one back then as well. Although such luxuries were mainly confined to the upper class at that time, it has been an Italian staple since Roman times.
5. Figs while being predominantly known as a Lebanese delight, also originated in the Roman Empire and while not a staple food, it was known to have been used in their cuisine. They were considered a true mark of the noblemen.
6. Olive Oil is as old as most people imagine it would be. It has been a staple food of Italy for millennia and will continue to be for many more to come. It was (and still is) the perfect oil to use for food and has been in the Southern Mediterranean for time immemorial.
7. Porridge as seen in ‘Goldilocks’ was also a staple breakfast food in ancient Rome. They used to add things such as lard, cheese, vegetable, or even meat into their porridge and they would cook it over an open fire.
8. Mushrooms were used as a common food in ancient Rome with its’ roots still being found in Italy with the Portobello mushroom and the rare truffles of the Piedmont region. As we do today, they often ate their mushrooms as a side to an omelet.
9. Grapes today are synonymous with Rome as they are seen as the fruit of the Emperors. They used grapes for wine, sides, and for simple fruits.
10. Grains were the ultimate staple food of Rome and were seen in almost every dish during their time. Much like today, grains were the key food of everyone’s diet.