What food did they eat in Pompeii?

The ancient city of Pompeii has left behind numerous clues into their everyday life. Archaeologists have used these artefacts to deduct these past citizen’s habits, traditions, and norms. What makes Pompeii so fascinating is comparing these ancient people’s daily lives to the contemporary now, seeing both the changes and comparisons between them. But what is one feature in human life that will never waver? Food! Pompeii was just as reliant on food as the rest of us, and at times turned the mundane act of eating into a culinary art form much like us today. Read here about the Pompeii citizen’s relationship with food.

Rich Citizens

The high-class citizens of Pompeii have thought to of had a very rich and exotic diet. It has been discovered that these families hosted dinner parties throughout the week to wine and dine with their friends and business associates. Exotic food was very fashionable in high society, and showing off by presenting imported seafood, flamingos, and even reports of giraffe. Regardless of the type of food eaten, it was usually only boiled, smoked, fried or baked. They seasoned most cuisines with fish sauce or thick syrup wine. They enjoyed deeply rich cuisines, such as desserts of stuffed dates soaking in honey.

Poor Citizens

Findings revealed foods that would have been inexpensive and widely available, such as grains, fruits, nuts, olives, lentils, local fish and chicken eggs, as well as minimal cuts of more expensive meat and salted fish from Spain. Waste from neighbouring drains would also turn up less of a variety of foods, revealing a socioeconomic distinction between neighbours.
For the poor people of Pompeii, the luxuries of exotic meat and an array of spices were not on the table, with only cheaper food products available. Due to the rich soil of the volcanic land, the city was able to produce a lot of fresh food. Vegetables were a staple in Pompeii, with cauliflower being a speciality. They often ate this raw as it was seen as a great remedy to halt a stomach ache while drinking. The fruit was used as an appetiser or dessert, with figs being the most popular. However, the main food dish that was used in poorer homes was bread. As it was cheaper and easier to obtain than other food products.

How healthy were they?

It is assumed from numerous findings in ancient Pompeii that the poorer citizens ate cheap but healthy foods while wealthier homes dined on delicacies.

When Pompeii was rediscovered and excavated in the 1800s, the skeletal remains of the citizens were revealed. These remains held vital information of these ancient beings, showing cause of deaths, their customs, as well as their physical attributes. Examiners found that all the citizen’s sets of teeth were excellent for that time. The reason suggests it was due to their good diet, which was rich in fresh food, as well as the high levels of fluorine due to the volcano.

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