Ancient Rome The Roman Meal

The Roman Meal
During the early Roman Empire through the second century BC, the Roman meal was very simple. Meals were prepared by the mother or female slave. The family sat on stools around a table. Children often waited on their parents. Food was prepared in small bite sized pieces that could be picked up with fingers or scooped up with a spoon. Around the second century the dining stools were replaced with dining couches.

Wealthy Romans bought food from the open air markets. Every week farmers and fishermen went to the towns to sell fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat. The Romans ate their first meal at dawn. This meal was small and usually consisted of bread, salad, olives, cheese, fruit, nuts, and cold meat left over from dinner the night before. At noon the Romans ate a small quick meal. After lunch everyone took a 2 to 3 hour nap. Even children were excused from school for this time. The evening meal was served at sunset and usually consisted of a large meal with the entire family. A typical meal consisted of soup with legumes, milk, cheese, fresh and dried fruit, and lard. Later meat and bread were added to this meal.

The Roman Meal

In the wealthy homes, slaves spent a large part of the day preparing food for their masters. Dinner parties were given by the men of wealthy families. The women and children dined separately. The meal was served in the dining room which was the finest room in the house. This room could have marble, mosaic, frescoes, fountains, fish tanks, tables with silver and flower inlays. Everyone reclined on couches that were arranged in a U shape around a low table. Musicians entertained the guests during the meal. These parties started with salads, eggs, and shellfish. Then guests were given wine which had been sweetened with honey.

The meal could have up to seven dishes. Slaves served the guests and wiped the fingers of the guests between courses. Cheese made from goat and sheep milk was often served. The main course might include boiled and roasted meat. Favorite meats included mutton (sheep meat), goat meat, pork, ham and bacon, chicken, goose and duck, and fish, especially tuna. The meat was sliced by the slaves, so it could be eaten with the fingers. Foods were seasoned with herbs like dill, thyme, basil, and mint. The final course may consist of fruit, dates, and cakes sweetened with honey. Yogurt could be mixed with the fruit. Walnuts, chestnuts, and acorns were also mixed with the foods.


The Roman Meal

Click the images to go to the individual pages.

Ancient Rome Introduction
Romulus and Remus
The History of Rome


The City of Rome
Ancient Roman Emperors
Roman Gods


Ancient Roman Gladiators
The Roman Meal
Ancient Roman Entertainment


Ancient Roman Baths
Ancient Roman Clothing
Ancient Roman Children


Ancient Roman Slaves
Ancient Roman Soldiers
Ancient Roman Homes


Ancient Roman Art
Ancient Roman Calendar
Ancient Roman Building


Roman Numerals
Roman Catacombs