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A small A to Z guide to food curiosities you can find in Rome - their history and description.


One of the great Roman dishes is the “abbacchio” with lamb as the main ingredient. The term derives from “bacchio”, the stick used to kill the young lamb before cutting its throat.


Testaccio is a historical area of the city with the Monte dei Cocci (mount of the earthenware, fragments of argile and other such materials); in ancient times the amphorae used for transporting products from other countries were then emptied in Rome and deposited in one specific area of the city; this provoked after many many years the formation of a small mountain,called Monte dei Cocci… …testaccio actually derives from the Latin “testae”, which meant amphorae fragments…

Ancient Eating Habits

Ancient rich Romans’ eating habits were refined and their banquets were real feats, in which hosts and guests ate for hours… and in some ancient elegant Roman residences of Pompei we can see small basins where people threw up by inserting a small stick into their throats, a so that the could go on eating and drinking…

…still in ancient times wine was mixed with water…

… and after dinner such vegetables as leeks were eaten because they were thought as drinking stimulators.

Elaborated recipes in ancient times included, for example, parrot tongue patty covered with rose petals…pasticcio di lingue di pappagalli parlanti cosparso di petali di rosa…

…and the famous Spanish “escabeche” sauce? It derives from the Latin sauce “esca Apici”, literally Apice’s sauce, being Apice the most important chef of Roman ancient times; in Italian the word became “scapece”, but it is used in Rome and Roman areas..

The ancient eating habits of the average Roman were as follows:

  • They cooked in portable containers at home, or
  • They bought food at an inn and took it home, or
  • They took the food prepared at home to an inn and ate there, to have more space or a comfortable space

    Convivium derives from “cum vivere” = to share, to live something with someone.

    Ancient Romans’ times to eat were:

  • Jentaculum – breakfast: 7:00-8:00am, milk and cookies or eggs and cheese.
  • Prandium – lunch: around midday, sometimes they ate standing and quickly, they ate little or light food anyway, such as fresh meat, fish, eggs and vegetables
  • Cena (it is called exactly like this in Italian too) – dinner: before sunset, but it lasted until late in the night, especially for the rich, who had more entrées

    In ancient Rome religion, weather and sanitary issues determined the way of eating…

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