The ancient Pompeii: Food

What they ate the Pompeians is documented by the charred remains of food. The food culture of this people of traders getting rich often news from other countries, especially from North Africa and the Orient. Basically the Pompeian kitchen was rich in fibers, vegetable proteins and minerals. This stemmed from the fact that the main foods were the vegetables and fruits. The bread produced in bakeries with several outbuildings mills with millstones, was undoubtedly a staple food. The extensive use of vegetables, also grown in home gardens, confirming the nickname of “eaters of herbs” given by Plautus to the Romans. Pliny the Elder classified a thousand edible plants, many of which extolled for their therapeutic qualities.

Famous was a type of cabbage that was cultivated in the area, also known in Rome as the cabbage of Pompeii or “cauliflower”. This food was highly regarded by the Romans, so much so that in Cato “De Agricultura” gave him the first place among the vegetables. “If you want a banquet drink a lot and eat with appetite – recommends Catone – take it raw before the meal and then just after, you feel like you have not eaten anything, and you can drink as much as you want.” In the gardens of the Pompeian campaign it was grown different types of lettuce, very similar to those still in use and also chicory, turnip broccoli, basil, carrots, watercress and leek. The latter was placed by Pliny in first place among the foods with the onion and garlic. These were believed to be from the poorer classes a relish to accompany the bread and not just a condiment. A precise indication of what is produced, and then consumed in Pompeii, is provided by the discovery of charred melon seeds, beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. Another particularly widespread food were the olives, which were cultivated in the area, towards the mountains Lattari and were kept, like today, in brine or vinegar and even turned into oil. In some of the houses of Pompeii they were found remains of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, stored on shelves, including food supplies for the family.

In the thriving city market were different types of fresh fruit from the regional campaigns, including apples, pomegranates, quinces, pears, grapes, figs and plums. In the last years of life before the eruption began to spread the cultivation of plants imported fruits, such as cherry, apricot and peach. The Pompeians used sophisticated storage systems is that for vegetables for fruit. In the first case the winter stores were created by immersing in brine or vinegar products, while the fruit was provided to dry it and dip it in honey, very widespread, it was also used mixed with wine. Renowned cheese production (caseus), even smoked, whether derived from sheep’s milk cow.