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Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Ancient Rome: Everyday Life and the Roman Feast

Our Roman soldier readying for the feast.

We learned about everyday life in Rome this week, focusing mainly on the foods the Romans ate.
Some foods that were especially common were:
  • apples and pears and figs and plums (and prunes, which are dried plums) and raisins (made from the grapes)
  • green peas (mostly dried like for split-pea soup), lentils, and chickpeas 
  • onions, carrots, garlic, and cabbages 
  • honey (they didn't have sugar
  • herbs like dill, thyme, oregano, basil, and mint 
  • nuts, especially walnuts and chestnuts and acorns 
  • cucumbers (they didn't have tomatoes
  • eggs (from chickens and from geese and ducks) 
  • yogurt and cheese, mostly from goats and sheep 
  • mutton (sheep meat), goat meat, and pork and ham and bacon, chicken, goose and duck, and fish, especially tuna. Oh, and snails - people raised them in special snail gardens, with little box hedges for them to crawl on.
  • One item that was very popular was a fermented fish sauce: you can find something like it today in the Thai foods section of the grocery store. Or Worchestershire sauce is probably similar too. They used it on everything, the way a lot of people use ketchup today.
  • Oatmeal (or barley porridge if you really want to do it right, or cream of wheat) 
  • pita bread with yogurt or feta cheese or pita bread with falafel (ground chickpeas)
  • pizza crust with olive oil poured on it, with feta cheese, thyme, onions and/or garlic, baked (remember, no tomatoes!)
  • barley soup with onions and carrots 
  • lentil soup with onions and carrots (try mixing some yogurt in) 
  • split pea soup 
  • onion soup
  • yogurt mixed with chopped cucumbers and garlic (tsatsiki) 
  • cucumbers with oil and vinegar (actually, the Romans ate them with honey)
  • roasted leg of lamb with mint sauce
  • yogurt mixed with honey and walnuts 
  • roasted chestnuts 
  • apple tart, made with honey
By picking the recipes for the Roman Feast and cooking them, we learned a lot about what spices they used and how they prepared their food. They used a lot of Garum, or fish sauce, cumin seeds, peppercorns, grape juice, wine, olive oil and lots of honey.

 The Roman Feast

 1. Gustatio, for starters.
We made Ovis Apalis, which is the equivalent to Roman Deviled Eggs. I mixed a little of the liquid with the yolks, rather than leaving them plain. For drinks throughout the meal, the adults had Mulsum or honeyed wine and the younger people had red and white grape juices.
 We also served these fig appetizers, one with cream cheese and  lemon zest...
and one with crushed pistachios, both soaked in a honeyed wine.
We also served olives, both black and green and lots of grapes.
You could also serve salads, oysters, braised mushrooms, sliced cucumber with melon or plain hard-boiled eggs.


 2. Caput Cenae. 
For the main dishes, we made Honeyed Dormice. We had trouble locating Dormice and they are such a bother to dress yourself, that we settled on Honeyed chicken drummies. Katie used poppy and sesame seeds on them.


We also served Isicia Omentata, a Roman meatloaf made with wine soaked bread cubes.

Another great idea for an Ancient Roman main dish are Pork Sausages, Roast Pork and Roast, braised or poached duck. The most popular type of sausage was the lucanica, a short, fat, rustic pork sausage. If you can’t get these, any spicy pork sausage will do. 


Cook some beans and season them with mustard, honey, pine-nuts, rue, cumin, and a splash of vinegar. - Apicius, 5.6.3
 For the sides, we served Mustard Beans...
Boil and skim some peas or beans. Flavour them with crushed Parthian laser, some liquamen, and some caroenum. Pour a little olive oil over these, then serve. - Apicius, 5.3.6

and Fabaciae Virides Et Baianae, or Edamame and Green Beans.
3. Dessert
We made Dulcia Domestica, or sweetened stuffed dates. 


 I had also planned to make a Libum, a Roman-style Cheesecake, but I forgot the ricotta cheese when I went shopping. 

Any grapes, figs, dates, apricots, peaches, cherries or plums would be fine as a dessert course.


We finished up our study of Ancient Rome by learning about the gods and goddesses. We made a chart that compares the Roman gods with the Greek gods. We also learned about the early Christians.
Resources:

7 comments:

  1. I love your feasts. I always find it amusing that we so intricately link the tomato with Italian food but it's a New World food.

    I'm trying to decide when we'll have a Roman feast and such because when we finish this year's history, we'll still have 400 years of Roman history.... And there's such a change in culture from Roman Republic to late Roman empire..... Something to mull over.

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  2. I really love the meals you incorporate into your studies. Great list of resources, too!

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  3. What an awesome list of food. Thanks for sharing it. I will save this post for when we get back to Roman times. Our Tom Sawyer loves Chickpeas with olive oil and spices. It is one of his favorite lunches.
    Blessings, Dawn

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  4. Looks like a lot of work but a ton of fun.

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  5. What a feast! I love all the different dishes - you sure did cook a lot of variety! And I really love your soldier's dress up - very cool!

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  6. Goodness - it really was a feast! What a delicious way to learn. :-)

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  7. So much fun!! What a great feast, clearly a lot of work was put into it. I love that you do historical feasts. I had to laugh at the image of the snail garden - then remembered that snails are farmed in France to this day - a very interesting sight :)

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