His name might feature on salad menus across the globe, but contrary to popular belief the classic Caesar salad wasn’t named after Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. What was named in his honour is July – his birth month.
Julius Caesar was born in the month Quintilis, which means “fifth month” in Latin. After his death Quintilis was renamed after Caesar, and to celebrate the month of July, we’re going to explore the palates of the friends, Romans and fellow countrymen of ancient Rome.
Food had a strong political and social connection in Rome, as food supply to the city reflected the ruler’s relationship with his countrymen. And what you ate and who you ate it with was a clear indication of your place in society. One-pot dishes were the fare of the ordinary people and was eaten during the middle of the day. For the wealthy, the main meal was served during the evening and consisted of three courses – usually eggs for starters, a main meal featuring three courses and cake or fruit for dessert. Fresh produce, nuts, and cheese sumptuously took their place on the tables, while the adults made themselves comfortable on reclining chairs during meal times. Cheese played a major role in the Roman diet and it was also a firm favourite amongst the Roman soldiers. However, sheep and goat’s milk was thought to be much more palatable than cow’s milk.
The serving of meat was only reserved for special occasions or for those who wanted to show off a bit. As an expanding empire, the Roman palate was also introduced to tastes from new geographical areas like Greece and Italy.
The Roman feast is a well known subject matter of many tales and cinematic endeavours, and with good reason. The way in which we feast is the best reflection of who we are. It’s about taking the best the land has to offer and honouring seasonal produce. And at the Roundhouse, that’s exactly what we’re all about. Our winter menu is inspired by the same celebration of nature that also inspired the dinner tables of ancient Rome – seasonal vegetables complemented by earthy flavours, served with the best from the pastures and the sea and rounded off with a selection of cheeses and ancient grain bread. It’s winter at its best.
So gather your loved ones around a table, and let’s celebrate the month of July with a meal fit for an emperor.
‘A Roman Feast’, Roberto Bompiani (Italian (Roman), 1821 – 1908)
Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.