Food habits

When, how and what did ancient Romans eat? Usually the day was divided into three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. The most important meal of the day was dinner, on the contrary breakfast and lunch were taken in a hurry and sometimes one of them was skipped.

The ancient Roman used to get up at dawn and had breakfast eating the day before dinner’s leftovers (cheese, olives, bread, honey), fresh milk and small cakes. At noon, when City’s activities took a break, people bought something to eat from hawkers, preferring hot food in winter and fresh food in summer. Romans used to have dinner when the got back from their thermal baths, where they met acquaintances who were invited to share the meal together.
Thermal Bath were also the meeting place of idlers, who went there in the hope to be invited by a friend.

Dinner was linked to the sunset. It was a rich meal and it was normally taken by the entire family. When there were guests, the meal was called convivium and included starters, main courses (caput cenae) and dessert (mensa secunda). At the end of the meal there was a final toast, that consisted in series of glasses drunk up, saying Evoè or the modern prosit.

In reach people houses, kitchen staff was directed by a chef and guests arrived in a gala dress. On the contrary, poor citizens often ate on the street. There were many taverns and hawkers, who were selling especially olives, brine fishes, small pieces of roasted meat, birds on the spit, stewed octopus, fruit, cakes and cheese. A poor man meal usually consisted of a slice of bread and small brine fishes, with a glass of water or inferior quality wine.