Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eatin' in Roman Britain

The Britanni were a farming society rich with cattle, sheep, and dogs. The crops raisd were mostly barley and wheat, which Romans referred to as 'corn.' The Britanni also had a wide variety of seafood the Romans enjoyed during their visit. In fact, oysters from Camulodunum/Colchester were so loved they were exported back to Rome. The Britanni also had plenty of wild boar to hunt and to send back to the games in Rome. Nature provided the rest of the Britanni diet as wild berries and roots. 

That is until the Romans came.

Over the nearly five hundred years Rome ruled in Britannia, the Romans improved not only the agriculture of this territory, put in roads, and a healthy means to taxation, etc., they brought new foods to this island as well as other regions of the Empire.

New varieties of vegetables: cabbage, onion, leek, shallots, carrots, endive, globe artichoke, cucumber, asparagus, parsnip, turnip, radish and celery.

New fruits: grape, medlar mulberry damson plum, cherry, and apples (not crabapples though.)

New nuts: walnut and chestnuts

New herbs: parsley, borage, chervil, coriander, dill, fennel, mint, thyme, garlic, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram, ginger, pepper and cinnamon bay, basil.

New animals: chickens, pheasants, peacocks guinea fowl, and some say the fallow deer.
The Romans imported dates, almonds, olives, olive oil wine, pinecones and garum (a fishy sauce for dipping food)And dormice. Yep, these little critters were fattened up and stuffed with minced meat and cooked.  They weren’t small as the British field mice, but much larger. And they still remain I'm sure alive and well in Britain.

Romans also introduced the idea of keeping birds in a columbaria or a place to raise birds for dinners.

Along with all these entrees they entertained the Britanni with ideas of fancy sauces to dip morsels into, smother with or marinate. And since Romans always enjoyed a good show, they shared ideas of presentation as stuffing a wild boar with small living birds that few out when carved open. Anyone else recall the ditty:

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The Romans also started the game park idea for the red roe and fallow deer as well as for rabbits/hare gardens thus to keep plenty available for dinners as well as for the fine sport of hunting. I believe the various British kings enjoyed many such parks over history. And many authors have used this to enhance plot lines of their stories and books.  

So Rome certainly has left a legacy in so many ways...even today.
Oh and don't Of course!!!

"Because in Amalfi you live by your heart....not by Rome's laws."
for more  about  Vows of Revenge
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  1. Very interesting post, Judy. Thanks.

  2. Fun post, Judy. You've inspired me. More tomorrow.