AO 4:06, Nov/Dec 2001
Ancient Life: Roman Haute Cuisine
Fried flamingo, anyone?
Were the ancient Romans simply the Italian connoisseurs of their day? Were they fond of corn-meal polenta, roasted potatoes, egglant, and penne in tomato sauce, followed perhaps by a cup of thick, sweet espresso?
Nope. Not unless Roman ships did indeed cross the Atlantic, for these foods (except for the pasta, which arrived on the scene much later) all came from the New World.
What the Romans did eat is suggested by this third-century A.D. mosaic from Greco-Roman Antioch, on Turkeys Mediterranean coast near the border with Syria. The mosaic, which once covered the floor of a dining room in Antiochs House of the Boat of Psyche, depicts (from left to right) personifications of the Harvest (Opora) and Fields (Agros) enjoying the fruits of their labors while being served by Wine (Oinos).