Monday, July 6, 2009

Food in Pompeii

Mr Avery from Bonnyrigg High School sent me an email requesting details about food in Pompeii. A nice question considering my work these past two weeks.
Mr Avery wanted to know the basic food eaten during the day in Pompeii and would a mid day meal resemble anything like a staff morning tea.
Well Mr Avery, to be simple and straight to the point, no it wouldn't. Some types of food in Pompeii were staple to the diet such as bread and other grains. Mid day meals were not a large concern as the evening meal was usually the highlight of the day. Social status often determined what types of food you consumed and how large a meal that might be. In other Roman areas we assume that communal banquets occurred however as of yet there is no real evidence for it in Pompeii.
Meat of some kind was desirable but consisted of usually wild game such as pork, deer or some fowl available in the nearby forest or on the riverfront. Fish of course, being a seaside city, would have been a staple meat. One tour guide the other day pointed out to a group of tourists that the ovens were used for baking bread and pizza. Let me assure you that although it may be possible at a staff morning tea, pizza was not cooked in Pompeii's ovens.
Sweet cakes were also baked however chocolate was not a treat for anyone in Europe in ancient times.
The area around Pompeii was famous for its Garum (fish sauce) and also wine production. I had a chance to eat Garum on pasta this evening. Quite tasty really. Market gardens within the city and on the outside of the walls also supplied the population with fresh vegetables and fruits. More than just a little garnish for the plates.
Hope this helps answer your question.