Pompeii, the legendary city of ancient Italy with a devastating past, has also earned a deserved repute for the knowledge it has given us about their culture, especially their food. Throughout the many centuries, the people of Pompeii have influenced modern food customs, cooking styles and new ingredients.
The Pompeiians were serious about their food. They loved to eat grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, and a few meats. Although they did not have the luxury of supermarket food, the Pompeiians managed to survive and live a healthy life through the foods that were growing in the land and the sea.
Grain was a major food source in the Pompeii diet. Pompeii had special mills that could easily convert hard grains into a soft, fine-grained flour that could be used for making bread, porridge, and more. Grains, such as millet, barley, and oats, were a major part of their diet, as well as high-calorie and nutritious beans and peas. Fruits and vegetables were also popular meals for the people of Pompeii.
When it comes to meats and fish, the Pompeiians were averse to the idea of over-indulging. They would have eaten only the most fresh types of meat and fish available. Shellfish was perhaps the most beloved food of the Pompeiians. Oysters, mussels, and prawns were among the most popular types of seafood they enjoyed. Additionally, they ate a wide variety of fish, such as tuna, anchovies, and bream, and kept livestock such as cattle, sheep and pigs.
The Pompeiians are also well-known for their liberal use of spices and herbs. They used these to add a variety of flavors to their dishes and make them more enjoyable. They used plenty of spices or herbs to add flavor to grain-based dishes, including garum, red peppers, and garum sauce, a sauce made from fermented fish, which also served as a condiment.
When it comes to drinks, the Pompeiians enjoyed wines imported from Greece and other parts of Italy. They also drank beers and mead, which was made from honey and was believed to have medicinal properties. Water was a plentiful resource in Pompeii, so the Pompeiians also quenched their thirst with water.
The Pompeiians had a variety of traditional recipes, including cornmeal mush with cheese, a thick pancake with dry figs, and a vegetable stew adding onion, cabbage, bay leaves, dill, and a pinch of salt. Another popular recipe was the grano di bollite, which was a combination of boiled barley with goat cheese, legumes, and spices. Stews made with a variety of vegetables and legumes were a staple of the Pompeii culture, as were a variety of fish dishes.
The Pompeiians also had their own bakery products, such as their famous panis pompeiianus, which was a type of flatbread. Other items included cakes and pastries, made with nuts, honey, and dried fruits. These products were often prepared in open air ovens and served as snacks, desserts, or even full meals.
Feasts and Celebrations
Feasts and celebrations were another commonoccurrence in Pompeii. It was customary for friends and family to gather to celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays. During these celebrations, fancy food was prepared and presented. These feasts included a variety of dishes, ranging from fish and roasted meats to stuffed vegetables, soups, and pastries. And of course, wine was also a crucial part of every meal.
Modern Day Pompeiian Food
Though many of the ingredients and meals of the Pompeiians have been forgotten, there are some dishes that we still enjoy today that have their origins in ancient Pompeii. The pizza, for example, is said to be the descendent of the flatbreads that the Pompeiians used to bake, while the tomato sauce they used to top their pizzas is a modern version of the garum sauce. Also, the tomato is a common ingredient used in Italian cuisine, which firstbecame popular during the time of the Pompeiians.
Through the discoveries in Pompeii, we can get a better insight into the healthy and varied food that the ancient citizens of Pompeii enjoyed. From grains and vegetables to seafood and bakery products, their diet was full of delicious and nutritious options that today’s people can still enjoy. Their influence on modern cuisine is still evident, and the legacy of the Pompeiians will live on in the food we enjoy today.