DINING ROOM: Triclinium Wealthy Roman men reclined on couches while propped on their left elbow while eating. Each of the 3 couches could hold up to 3 guests. The word triclinium has 2 components: tri (three) and clinium (recline).
BREAKFAST: Ientaculum Breakfast was a quick bite to get you going. It would have been a light snack of bread maybe with cheese or olives and wine or sometimes milk to drink.
LUNCH: Prandium Lunch was a quick meal to keep you going. It would have been cold meats (if you could afford it), vegetables and fruit. This cold lunch might have been leftovers from last night’s dinner.
LUNCH (con’t): Thermopolium The other choice for lunch was hot food from a thermopolium which was the ancient Roman “fast food” restaurant.
DINNER: Cena A formal dinner party would have been a 3 course meal. The courses would consisted of an appetizer, an entree and dessert.
APPETIZER: Gustus Possible and popular foods to be consumed during the gustus included eggs (ovum) lettuce, vegetables and/or shellfish or some other seafood perhaps served in a sauce. Mulsum or wine sweetened with honey was the drink of choice.
DESSERT: Secunda Mensa Secunda Mensa (second table) was the dessert course. Typically fruit (apples, pears, figs) sometimes with nuts or cakes made with honey were served.
The Main Course: Cena The Romans ate very little beef, since cows were used to work in the fields. They enjoyed a variety of birds such as chicken, duck, ostrich, crane, flamingo and peacock. Dormice were such a delicacy that they were raised and fattened. Naturally they also ate fish. Popular vegetables included artichokes, carrots, onions, peas, asparagus, radishes, turnips plus beans and lentils.
After the meal… After dinner there could be a round of drinking that could last a long time. There might also be entertainment at the dinner such as poets, actors, dancers or jugglers.
Finger Foods and Dishes The food was cut into bite sized pieces since no forks or knives were used at the table. Spoons were only used for certain dishes. Most dishes were made from earthenware or clay pottery.
What NOT to eat! Lastly, there are several foods the ancient Romans did not eat, most notably tomatoes and pasta. They also did not have potatoes, corn, oranges, bananas, strawberries, coffee, tea or chocolate.