Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Asking the real questions. Was there any condiments?
Just a quick question. Did the romans have any condiments? Or did they just eat their meals with spices? I am very curious on this.
(12-22-2017, 07:20 PM)The Belldozer Wrote: Did the romans have any condiments?

Yes, they had GARUM - the ketchup of the Roman world!

(the page above comes from this blog - Pass the Garum)
Nathan Ross
There is also a v.  learned piece on garum available here:

As for other condiments, the  ''Private Life of the Romans'', by Johnston (a very good book, that makes the point that Roman dinners were not invariable orgies of gluttony, less so (excepting the vagaries of the vulgar rich) than Edwardian dinners a la Russe. Sadly I cannot find footnotes and a campaign through the Loeb library will take some time) refers to bread being dipped in wine (cf. the later sop) at the ientacvlvm, or else a little salt. Describing the meal of an husbandman, the Appendix Vergiliana alludes to moretum, a sort of paste of cheese and herbs eaten, likely spread, over bread:

''... The ruddy onion, and a bed of leek
-For cutting, hunger doth for him subdue-,
And cress which screws one's face with acrid bite,
And endive, and the colewort which recalls
The lagging wish for sexual delights.
On something of the kind reflecting had
He then the garden entered, first when there
With fingers having lightly dug the earth
Away, he garlic roots with fibres thick,
And four of them doth pull; he after that
Desires the parsley's graceful foliage,
And stiffness-causing rue,' and, trembling on
Their slender thread, the coriander seeds,
And when he has collected these he comes
And sits him down beside the cheerful fire
And loudly for the mortar asks his wench.
Then singly each o' th' garlic heads be strips
From knotty body, and of outer coats
Deprives them, these rejected doth he throw
Away and strews at random on the ground.
The bulb preserved from th' plant in water doth
He rinse, and throw it into th' hollow stone.
On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese
Is added, hard from taking up the salt.
Th' aforesaid herbs he now doth introduce
And with his left hand 'neath his hairy groin
Supports his garment;' with his right he first
The reeking garlic with the pestle breaks,
Then everything he equally doth rub
I' th' mingled juice. His hand in circles move:
Till by degrees they one by one do lose
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
Because the milky fragments this forbid,
Nor showing white as from the milk because
That colour's altered by so many herbs.
The vapour keen doth oft assail the man's
Uncovered nostrils, and with face and nose
Retracted doth he curse his early meal;
With back of hand his weeping eyes he oft
Doth wipe, and raging, heaps reviling on
The undeserving smoke. The work advanced:
No longer full of jottings as before,
But steadily the pestle circles smooth
Described. Some drops of olive oil he now
Instils, and pours upon its strength besides
A little of his scanty vinegar,
And mixes once again his handiwork,
And mixed withdraws it: then with fingers twain
Round all the mortar doth he go at last
And into one coherent ball doth bring
The diff'rent portions, that it may the name
And likeness of a finished [salad] fit

Salad is usually used to describe moretum, but the ''coherent ball'' of ground herbs, cheese, oil and vinegar is patently no salad as we should understand it (the word salad is from Latin salata, an adjective formed from sal, salis (m.), salt -- thus, vegetables given savour with brine or with a salty dressing of oil and vinegar). The exact date of the Appendix Vergiliana is disputed, but if genuine, they are first century BCE.  There are apparently other recipes in the Re Rustica of Columella. ''The Internet'' (take cum grano salis) says they are, if spurious, no later than the first century A.D.

Earlier in the poem it is noted that the ploughman, lacking meat, makes moretum while his bread is cooking in case it should not be palatable alone - surely the exact definition of a condiment.

A semi-reconstruction can be found here:
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.

Forum Jump: