It wasn’t all feasting and gluttony in Ancient Rome, a food stall uncovered in Pompeii shows how street vendours attracted customers to their fast casual outlets with pictures of half naked nymphs.
We may forget that we’re not living in truly unique times at all and trends are usually cyclical, have iterated many thousands of times throughout history already.
When we think of Ancient Rome and food, we usually think of decadent feasts where noblemen and women lolled around eating grapes while slaves kept their wine chalices full. The vomitorium, where they used the ostrich feather to throw up to make room for another course was a myth and never existed, but there was a highly evolved and diverse cuisine that drew ingredients from all over the Roman Empire.
Tastes were quite different back then and we know that the Romans enjoyed such delicacies as Girrafe stew, dolphin meatballs, boiled parrot, jellyfish omelettes, sows’ wombs in brine, sheep’s brain pate and stuffed mice.
Street food was a big thing in Ancient Rome and a recently uncovered an ancient eatery in the city of Pompeii which enticed customers to sample its fare with a half-naked sexy nymph known as a nereid and a horse.
Known as a thermopolium, these street food stalls served drinks and hot food for eating on the go. There are already 80 known thermopolium sites in Pompeii, so this is not an unusual find but the quality of the preserved mural and the everyday objects used for serving and eating food help archaelogists understand more about daily life in Ancient Rome.
“Thermopolia were places where, as the name of Greek origin would suggest, drinks and hot foods were served, and these goods were stored in largedolia (jars) which were embedded in the masonry serving counter,” a statement detailing the discovery said. “Such establishments were located all over the Roman world, when it was common to go out to eat the prandium (meal).”
Also unearthed were typical clay jugs used for storing food and drink known as amphorae, which also feature in another mural of a man at work in the thermopolium.
Just as street food was popular in Ancient Rome so too were the power house celebrity chefs. In fact some might say that the worship of chefs is a harbinger of the collapse of civilisation (yikes!).