Toggle menu

Roman Food

Roman Market

The ordinary Roman was not a great eater of meat. The army diet was a balanced one of wheat (which the soldiers themselves ground and made into porridge, bread, or biscuits), some meat (usually bacon), fish, poultry, cheese, vegetables, fruit, salt, olive oil, and raw wine. Officers did rather better.

At home, porridge and bread were the staple food of most Romans, many of whom in the city had to rely on the corn dole for their needs.

Some of the foods that we know and love today were unknown to the Romans, including bananas, chilli pepper, corn, sugar, peanuts, tea, rice, chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes and coffee.

The Romans would start a dinner party with gustatio (hors d'oeuvres) - such as salads, oysters and eggs.

This would be followed by the prima mensa (main course) - fish (including eel), mullet, prawns and turbot; poultry, goose, pheasant, duck and peacock for the rich; or meat which included boar, venison, wild goat, lamb, hare and dormice.

An offering to the household Gods would often be performed at this point.

This would be followed by secunda mensa (dessert) - honey sweetened cakes and fruit.

Dinner parties would consist of the after dinner drinking of wine mixed with water and entertainment with music, dancing, conjurors and even acrobats.

Why don't you have a go at making some Roman food delicacies at home?


Recipe for Stuffed Dormouse (PDF) [462KB]

Recipe for Garum (PDF) [395KB]

Recipe for Pigs Trotters with Pearl Barley (PDF) [575KB]

Recipe for Hare in Sweet Sauce (PDF) [568KB]

Share this page

Facebook icon Twitter icon email icon


print icon