What Did the Rich Romans Eat?

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Rich ancient Romans ate a very diverse diet of bread, meats, poultry, cheese, milk, eggs, fruits, seafood and wine. The wealthiest Romans ate three meals a day, and the more exotic the ingredients, the better.

Ancient Romans ate breakfast, or “ientaculum,” very early in the morning. Ientaculum usually consisted of salted bread, eggs, cheese, honey, milk and fruit. For lunch, wealthy Romans would eat a light quick meal in the early afternoon called the “cibus meridianus” or “prandium.” The food was often the same as breakfast, but might also include meat, fish or a vegetable. Dinner, or “cena,” was the main meal of the day and was served elaborately in courses. The first course would often consist of an egg dish. Meat was always served in the main course, and birds were very popular, especially peacock and ostrich because they were very expensive. Other exotic items like sea urchins and raw oysters were consumed as well. For dessert, fruits, dates and nuts were eaten, and apples were particularly popular when in season. Romans were very fond of sauces and liked to incorporate vinegar, honey and exotic spices into every course of the meal. Banquets for the rich lasted for hours, and diners would often recline on couches and enjoy entertainment while they ate.