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Introduction to Roman History (Food Lecture- February 7th 2013).pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Michael J.Dewar

INTRODUCTION TO ROMAN HISTORY (CLA233H1S) February 7 TH2013 (Roman Food) • Roman Aristocrats lived on soft white bread for carbohydrates. • Roman citizens living in the city were more prone to nutritional deficiencies than the citizens living in the countryside. • Cattle were offered to the Gods in a sacrificial way (Food as a threshold between mortals and the divine). • Emperors were responsible for providing wine, sweet meats, dried fruits and nuts. The Two Major Problems in Rome 1. Malnutrition 2. Starvation • Cane sugar was not cultivated so Romans ate less sugar. • With regards to the site of Pompeii, many of the remains that were found showed signs of stress on their bones yet their dental records showed no signs of decay. • Stress that was found on the bones was attributed to be from manual labour. • The reason why there were no signs of decay in their dental records is due to the fact that Romans ate a lot of fiber and natural sugars from fruits. • This consumption of fiber meant that Romans had relatively good digestion.  Emperors were the chief instigators of lavish parties.  The taxation of Egyptians provided the Roman government with more money to import exotic goods.  The best bread was made from figs.  Annona (“Part of the Big Harvest”) was the epitome of Roman Imperial wealth and labour.  Roman citizens lived in an insula where they would harvest wheat to be given to bakeries. The bakeries would then make bread out of the wheat and keep it in storage for the Roman citizens. Distribution of Goods  Free distribution of wheat (cord) to male Roman citizens was instituted by the Emperor.  The quantity of bread that was distributed throughout Rome was far more than the nuclear family needed. Therefore, families would distribute their bread to their slaves and matrons.  As the Empire grew larger, olive oil was imported and special occasions would call for sweet meats.  There was also the distribution of dried fruit.  Honey was popular among Roman citizens as their palates were inclined towards exotic flavours and spices.  Food acted as the link between festivals and entertainment. Juvenal ‘Panem et Circenses’  Translated to Bread and Circus Games (as in Chariot Races).  Said to be the gift of the Emperor.  At the Chariot Races, there would be a distribution of snacks to the audience (i.e. sweet meats, dried fruits and nuts).  There was also a lottery in which an Emperor would distribute money to the audience of male citizens.  Honey with thyme from Attica was a Roman delight.  Sri Lanka has the majority of gold Roman coins Most evidence of Roman currency. Garum and Liquamen  Garum was especially important in the Roman diet.  It was a paste made from small salted fish that were dipped in olive oil and set out in the sun (to ferment them).  Liquamen was a sauce that consisted of garum mixed with pork, lamb and sweet fruits such as plums. Ovid ‘Metamorphosis’  The divine tested human beings by disguising themselves as travellers.  This was to test the “Peasant Ideology” in which you give from what you have.  If you gave the best of what you had, you would be considered to be morally in tune.  Wax was placed in jugs of wine to prevent the wine from leaching into the wood.  “Second Tables” meant that with each course, new tables would be brought in fo
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