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Roman Food

almasfood.jpgSince Gusto the cook tragically died shopping for leeks in the forum when a donkey kicked him in the head, I have taken over the duties of cook. Here is a list of all the foods I know. (Right: Alma with Flavia and Nubia © LEG Ltd 2007)

I. VEGETABLES: Ostia is famous for its cabbages, but we also have carrots, turnips, red and white onions, radishes, celery, leeks, mushrooms, beets, sorrel, mallow, truffles, chard, chick peas, broad beans, gourds, squash, broccoli, watercress, chives, spinach, lettuce, watercress, chicory, rocket, endive, fennel, artichokes, thistle, asparagus, olives and garlic. We also eat the green 'tops' of butcher's broom, clematis, rue, purslane, mallow, wild radish and even thorn.

II. FRUIT: Ostia is famous for its melons but we also have figs, dates, apples, plums & prunes, pears, cherries, pomegranate, quince, grapes & raisins. More exotic are peaches, apricots and lemons. I have only seen an orange once, and I have never tasted one... they are extremely rare!

III. FISH & SEAFOOD: sole, bass, mackerel, sturgeon, tuna, turbot, red mullet, anchovies, sardines, shark, eels, oysters, clams, lobster, octopus & squid.

IIII. NUTS, GRAIN & PULSE: almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pistachio nuts, lentils, barley, wheat, spelt. Oh dear! I'm sure I've forgotten one or two...

V. MEAT & GAME: goat & kid, mutton & lamb, beef & veal, pork, rabbit, venison (deer), boar, chicken, geese, ducks, pigeons, quail, peacock, little songbirds and dormice. Very fiddly to prepare, those mice! And of course snails. Some people say that if you feed them on mint-flavoured milk you get minty snails. Personally I've never found that to work.

VI. DAIRY etc: goat, sheep and cow milk, yogurt, cream, soured cream, buttermilk, cheese, and eggs.

VII. SPICES & SEASONINGS: olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, fish sauce, honey, salt, peppercorns, myrtle berries, garlic, lovage, oregano, chervil, marjoram, bay leaf, thyme, mint, sage, rue, coriander, caraway seed, mustard seed, chervil, chives, cumin, dill, aniseed, fennel, parsley, saffron, rose petals, bay leaves, grape leaves, mastic and whatever takes my fancy.

VIII. BEVERAGES: wine (watered down, of course), grape juice, pomegranate juice, barley water, cabbage juice, milk, buttermilk, and (rarely) beer.

VIIII. SWEETS: I've seen pastries made with wheat, honey, nuts and cheese, stuffed dates, candied fruit. But I think it's healthiest to end your meal with fresh or dried fruit. Romans even had chewing gum! For more about that, go HERE

X. MEDICINAL HERBS: elderberry, rue, wild blackberry, purslane, knotgrass, plantain, parsley, wall herb, myrtle, apple mint, mallow, apple, sweet alyssum, bay leaf, lettuce, persian walnut, barley, fennel, cyclamen, chicory, camomile, red valerian, poppy tears, calamint and wormwood. Oh, and Jonathan recently came back from Rome and told me about ephedron, which is excellent for his asthma.