We all know about the ancient Roman civilization that lasted for many centuries, and how the noble Romans left behind a deep impact in almost all fields in the modern day western world – from literature, culture, and customs, to religion, philosophy, and even the world cuisine. This list of foods helps you understand a few of the unusual and ancient Roman dishes you might never have heard of. They are still around, even though there may be some basic alterations to the recipes to satisfy modern customers.
1. Roman Bread – Common Wheat Item for Breakfast & Meals
What is it: This is a basic bread dish which the then-Romans would enjoy as their breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with the main course dishes. It was served as a common item in almost all households, as also in gatherings and public holidays. In other words, this staple dish was a common favorite to all – from the rich to the poor.
What does it taste like: The bread is very tender and puffy, while the addition of rye flour in the dough gives a unique flavor. The taste enhances further depending on what you are eating it with.
2. Garum – Typical Roman Era Fish Sauce
What is it: This is an ancient sauce made from fermented fish entrails and salt, which entered the Roman cuisine through the Greco-Roman cross culture. The original recipe involves processing the ingredients for a few days at a stretch. This might sound weird, but you must remember that this is primarily a flavor enhancer.
What does it taste like: Depends completely upon your personal preference, and whether your flavor receptors will accept it. This sauce tastes even better when mixed in a particular dish along with other aromatic ingredients like vinegar, pepper, and herbs of your choice.
3. Roman Honey Cakes – Traditional Holiday Dessert Confectionery
What is it: The Romans could probably prepare this dish quite fast since the ingredients required were few and simple – just eggs, honey, and flour. The secret of its taste lies in the timing and the baking process. Today, this simple confectionary has been adopted by both the Christian and the Jewish communities to celebrate weddings, or festivals like Christmas, and Yuletide, and even served at Roman-themed toga parties and banquets.
What does it taste like: This one tastes so yummy that everyone, starting from the older ones to school kids, would surely love it. The flavor of honey goes very well with the combined aroma of baked eggs and flour.
4. Lucanian Sausage – A Quintessential Meaty Appetizer for Roman Empire Soldiers
What is it: This dish was also common during Julius Caesar’s time and would often be served in the legions. Romans, especially the rich Romans, had lots of fish and meats in their diets, and pork sausages were specifically favorite to them. This sausage menu is still favorite to people who all know what it is.
What does it taste like: The sausage has a very subtle taste combined with assorted spices. Especially, the process of preparing the dish brings that secret taste to the dish.
5. Roman Chicken Drumsticks – Substitute to the Famous Dormouse Delicacy
What is it: Dormouse was considered a delicacy in ancient Rome, originally cooked with mice. The Romans would spend lots of time to cook the mice perfectly, and then celebrate all evening with the drumsticks and wine. However, at modern restaurants, the mouse meat has been substituted with chicken legs for this dish.
What does it taste like: The marinated tender legs releases an excellent aroma when baked after marinating all night, mixed with all the ancient herbs and spices. You need a bite of it to understand why this was a hot favorite to the emperors, the gladiators or the aristocrats.
6. Tuna in Wine & Garum Sauce – Grilled Roman Culture Fish Dish
What is it: This is basically a long-brined/-marinated fish dish, where steaks of tuna are treated with lots of spices and other ingredients, including shallots, wine, and mint, in addition to garum or the above-mentioned fish sauce.
What does it taste like: Needless to say that the aroma released by the fish, when done, is superb! The strong flavors of shallots, and garum, added with mint, combine so well and evenly that you are bound to keep licking your fork while eating!
7. Stracciatella Alla Romana – Roman Scrambled Egg Drop Soup
What is it: Egg was common in Rome, and the Romans would also cherish this simple and inexpensive soupy raw egg and spinach dish during everyday family meals. It is basically an egg drop soup in chicken stock, with boiled spinach. Today, it may be eaten as an appetizer, with the addition of various leafy greens and vegetables other than just spinach.
What does it taste like: The egg, when dropped into the simmering chicken stock, releases a tantalizing aroma. When you sprinkle some fresh black pepper powder over it before eating, it fully satisfies your stomach. You can enjoy it in a soup bowl, or try it like a hot drink in a soup cup.
8. Globuli – Classic Roman Holy Sweet Dish
What is it: This old sweet dish is basically cheese curd sweet balls, made with honey and poppy seeds, and was considered holy by the Romans. It would often be prepared during mass religious events like the Feast of Lupercalia, and the great Saturnalia Festival. Even though the concept of cooking was usually associated with a lot of time and effort, this item was quickly made and can be considered an ancient fast food
What does it taste like: The dish is puffy with a relatively crispy surface, though your teeth would dip inside the tender cheese curd. The natural essence in honey, along with the sweet-smelling poppy seeds will make you feel that your dinner wouldn’t have been complete without this savory dessert dish!
So that was our list of Roman foods, with all relevant information, along with their names, types and variations, pictures, and everything that you would need to know to visit today’s Rome and get the authentic taste of them all. You will truly get to perceive why they say – ‘when in Rome, be like a Roman’!