Thursday Thirteen #9 – Ancient Cooking


I write fantasy. The problem of food often comes up so I finally bought a book on ancient cooking last week. So, without further ado here are…

Thirteen Things about Ancient Cooking

Food was thought as a way to preserve health and a treatment for sickness.

2… Milk was a seasonal food. (A complete d’oh moment for me. Of course it would be, LOL)

3… Wild-picked food was looked down upon. Only the poor foraged.

4… Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves were so expensive they were used for medicine and perfume, not cooking. (The reason I started investigating ancient cooking was a WIP called Alchemy – and I was using cinnamon for medicine. Happy to see I was right, LOL)

5… Sugar was unknown in the west before fourth century BCE – and then again for medicine.

6… Only the Romans had lunch. *grin*

7… Grain-based food was considered a sign of civilisation.

8… In the Greco-Roman period, sitting up to eat was a sign of social inferiority.

9… Carrots ranged in colour from purple to red, yellow to white.

10… The Greeks didn’t have chicken in their diet until the sixth century BCE

11… And another fun chicken fact. The Romans invented chicken soup for nursing the unwell.

12… And some yucky facts. Sow’s womb was a Roman gormet treat. Yum

13… Fermenting fish brine was the key ingredient in ancient cooking, made from salting fish for weeks or months and allowing the flesh to rot down…

24 thoughts on “Thursday Thirteen #9 – Ancient Cooking

  1. Justin

    A little thread necromancy. Tripped across here looking for info on Roman cuisine.

    Regarding #13, look up how Worcestershire sauce is made. Yep. Anchovies fermented for 18 months or so.

  2. Olivia Lorenz

    My fave disgusting Roman food is the licker fish that lived in the Tiber. Insanely expensive and super-gourmet, but what did the licker fish eat? Poo. Mmm tasty! (but tell this fact to a class of Year 7s and they LOVE it)

  3. Elle Fredrix

    “Only the poor foraged.” LOL

    And I can’t wait to be out picking raspberries from my little backyard patch. How plebeian of me!

    Nice to have found you!

  4. Di

    I think the modern equivalent of “only the poor foraged” would be those who use generic mayonnaise and buy beef jerky in bulk from Costco!

  5. she

    I saw red and white carrots for the first time when I was in India in Jan/Feb of this year. I’ve even got a picture of them on a vendor’s cart close to the bottom of this post – – if you’re interested in seeing them. The red ones are much sweeter than the orange ones I’m used to.

  6. damozel

    Yes, the Romans…I learned a lot about their diet from watching Rome; evidently dormouse cooked in some sort of pastry was a big treat. Imagine eating rodents.

  7. gabriella hewitt

    I knew a few of these things. I have to admit I learned them from reading historical romances set in medieval times! Very interesting list. Thanks for sharing.

    What’s the name of the book and what period does it cover? I’d like to check it out.

    Happy TT. I’m up.

  8. Sue

    Interesting! I have a recipe book that lists foodstuffs from medieval times that are just dreadful sounding, and another from the Georgian period that is equally yucky! Great list, and Happy TT!

  9. impworks

    Which book did you get?

    You know me and my obsession with including food in stories. Any source of more food history will keep me off the streets for a few hours 😉

  10. Tink

    Some things I knew, but definitely not all. Interesting stuff! I like it when an author is thorough!
    I listed 13 favourite food / snacks this week.

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