Quiz about When in Rome Eat as the Romans Did
Quiz about When in Rome Eat as the Romans Did

When in Rome, Eat as the Romans Did Quiz


When people think of the food of Ancient Rome, they imagine decadent banquets and unusual foodstuffs. However, this quiz will show that what Romans ate was often not that different from what we eat nowadays.

A multiple-choice quiz by Team Phoenix Rising. Estimated time: 3 mins.
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Author
LadyNym
Time
3 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
410,782
Updated
Nov 15 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
265
Last 3 plays: Guest 81 (9/10), MargW (7/10), MariaVerde (6/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. The Ancient Romans generally ate three meals, of which "cena" was the most important. What kind of meal was it?
Hint

lunch
dinner
breakfast
elevenses

2. Grain-based foods, such as a porridge called "puls" and various kinds of bread, were among the staples of Roman cuisine. What grain, a type of wheat, was used to make these basic foods? Hint

quinoa
farro
sorghum
buckwheat

3. The Romans also ate many vegetables, though some of those that are now associated with the Mediterranean diet were not yet known at the time. Which of these vegetables, still a mainstay of the cuisine of modern-day Rome, would you have found on a Roman table?
Hint

peppers
spinach
tomatoes
artichokes

4. Various kinds of meat were featured on the Roman table. A whole chapter of Apicius' famed cookbook "De re coquinaria" is dedicated to which tasty meat-based preparations, beloved of grilling aficionados?

bacon
sausages

5. Besides meat and seafood, the Romans enjoyed other sources of protein that now would be viewed as not for the faint of heart. What invertebrates (still popular in France) were farmed extensively around Rome?
Hint

spiders
cicadas
crickets
snails

6. Nuts grow abundantly in the Mediterranean basin, and were used by the Romans in savoury and sweet dishes. An especially delicious sauce or spread called "moretum", which also included cheese, garlic, and herbs, is considered by some to be the ancestor of which well-known Italian pasta sauce?
Hint

bolognese
pesto
carbonara
marinara

7. No quiz about Ancient Roman cuisine would be complete without a mention of "garum", a pungent condiment that could command very high prices. Which modern condiment, widespread in Southeast Asia, resembles it most?
Hint

hot sauce
mustard
ketchup
fish sauce

8. A wide variety of desserts were enjoyed in Ancient Rome, even though refined sugar or fresh butter were not available to Roman pastry cooks. One of these, called "placenta", was one of the earliest versions of which luscious modern dessert, often associated with New York City?
Hint

tiramisu
apple pie
cheesecake
crème brulée

9. In Ancient Rome, wine was normally mixed with water before drinking. The everyday drink of soldiers and the lower classes, however, was an acidic concoction called "posca", which appears in the narration of the Passion of Jesus Christ. What was its main ingredient?
Hint

brine
vinegar
sour milk
lemon juice

10. Not all Roman citizens had access to a fully equipped kitchen, and those who lived in apartment buildings availed themselves of a number of establishments viewed as the forerunners of modern fast food restaurants, pubs, and wine bars. How were these places generally regarded?

everyone went there, even the wealthiest Romans
they were patronized only by the lower classes


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The Ancient Romans generally ate three meals, of which "cena" was the most important. What kind of meal was it?

Answer: dinner

For the Ancient Romans, the day started with "ientaculum", the equivalent of breakfast. This was taken at daybreak. A small lunch, "prandium", was eaten before noon. The "cena" was the main meal of the day, eaten late in the day. Ordinary Romans might have eaten a small late supper called "vesperna", as their cena was small and eaten quickly. More wealthy citizens, who did not have to work, ate a bigger cena starting from late afternoon, well into the evening with overlap with the vesperna that the ordinary folks ate.

The cena for the wealthy was a grandiose social affair lasting several hours. It would be eaten in the dining room called the "triclinium". The tables were low, with couches on three sides. The fourth side was left for servants to serve the dishes. The triclinium itself was expensively and expansively decorated. It was a place to display wealth and status. Some of the wealthiest homes had a second, smaller dining room for other more basic meals.

Meals showed the divide between the ordinary Romans and the wealthy. The less wealthy ate bread for breakfast, sometimes softened with wine. Cheese and olives were added if possible. Bread was important to the Romans, and was given away free of charge to unemployed people as was the entrance fee to gladiatorial contests - hence the expression "bread and circuses". Wealthy Romans supplemented their bread with meat, fish and/or vegetables. At lunch times the divide was apparent. The less wealthy ate vegetables, a thin porridge, or cheese with bread, and then continued to work. The wealthy ate bread, salad, olives, cheese, fruit and nuts, plus any leftover meat or fish from the day before. They then had a two-hour siesta. For cena, the less wealthy ate porridge and vegetables and fish, meat, and olives only on occasion when/if they could afford it.

This question was swallowed whole by Phoenix Rising's 1nn1.
2. Grain-based foods, such as a porridge called "puls" and various kinds of bread, were among the staples of Roman cuisine. What grain, a type of wheat, was used to make these basic foods?

Answer: farro

In current usage, the term "farro" refers to three grains - emmer, spelt. or einkorn. The ancient Romans predominantly grew and prepared emmer, but all three were known to them. All farro grains are wheat types that are genetically different, and also cannot be threshed in the same manner as the wheat we commonly consume today.

Emmer was used to bake bread, usually a flat round. Most people did not have bread ovens, so communal ovens were used to bake bread loaves that were prepared in the home. In Pompeii, over 30 such commercial bakeries have been identified. The bread would be served with salt at a minimum, and sometimes was dipped in wine. Cheese and olives might be eaten along with the emmer bread. Puls porridge would have added meat and vegetables - similar to today's risotto.

Player pusdoc has never baked bread with farro, but has certainly eaten her share of farro dishes.
3. The Romans also ate many vegetables, though some of those that are now associated with the Mediterranean diet were not yet known at the time. Which of these vegetables, still a mainstay of the cuisine of modern-day Rome, would you have found on a Roman table?

Answer: artichokes

Artichokes, or "carciofi" in Italian, have been part of Roman cuisine since at least the 15th century, possibly earlier. The artichoke is known as the "king of vegetables" due to its health properties such as antioxidants, vitamins c and K, folate and other minerals: additionally it may aid in lowering cholesterol. The Mediterranean region is credited with the origination of artichokes. However, those eaten in Ancient Greece and Rome (called "carduus", or "cardoon") are likely to have been wild rather than cultivated.

An artichoke is a thistle. Romaneschi, Cimaroli, and Mammole are Italian varieties of artichokes. Their season begins in March, and they are readily found in the markets. "Carciofi alla romana" is a steamed, poached dish featuring artichokes stuffed with a mixture of mint, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Another popular recipe is "Carciofi alla giudia" that dates back to the 16th century. It is a Roman-Jewish dish of fried artichokes seasoned with salt and pepper.

Peppers and tomatoes were introduced in Italy from the Americas, while spinach was introduced by the Arabs in the 9th century AD.

Phoenix Rising's jaknginger has never tried Carciofi alla giudia, but is now on the lookout!
4. Various kinds of meat were featured on the Roman table. A whole chapter of Apicius' famed cookbook "De re coquinaria" is dedicated to which tasty meat-based preparations, beloved of grilling aficionados?

Answer: sausages

Meat in Roman times would have been a precious commodity, and wastage would have been frowned upon, so different cuts would have been utilised. Without efficient cold storage, steps needed to be taken to preserve some of the meat for later consumption.
Apicius, author of "De re coquinaria" ("On the Subject of Cooking"), a collection of Roman recipes, had several recipes using parts of the animal such as offal, caul, intestines, brains, blood, and womb to create "farcimina" (sausages) and "omentata" (faggots or meatballs), Some of these variants were fermented, cured or smoked to preserve them.

Lucanian sausage ("lucanica") is an ancient sausage from Lucania in Southern Italy, dating back to 200 BC, that was a staple of a Roman soldier's rations. It is believed to be a dry-cured,salami-type sausage that wouldn't spoil on its travels with the Roman army.
According to Apicius, they would have contained herbs and spices such as pepper, cumin, savoury, and rue, along with the meat and pine nuts; the mixture then was pushed in intestinal casings and then smoked. Lucanica has given its name to various sausages found around the Mediterranean region, such as the Italian "luganega" and the Greek "loukaniko".

Red Crew's smpdit is herself partial to sausages of most types, and could be persuaded to partake a morsel if offered.
5. Besides meat and seafood, the Romans enjoyed other sources of protein that now would be viewed as not for the faint of heart. What invertebrates (still popular in France) were farmed extensively around Rome?

Answer: snails

Though some people may wrinkle their noses at the idea of eating snails, these animals belong to the same large phylum as clams, oysters, mussels, octopus, and squid - all creatures that we gladly feast upon, and that were often featured on Ancient Roman tables. Snail farming (also known as heliciculture) is believed to be much older than the Roman civilization, as remains of roasted snail shells have been found in prehistoric archaeological sites. The Romans developed a method of snail farming known as "lumaca romana" ("Roman snail"), which was mainly practiced in the region of Tarquinia, northwest of Rome. This method, mentioned in Marcus Terentius Varro's "De re rustica", involved keeping the snails in outside pens named "cochlearia", and fattening them by feeding them laurel leaves sprinkled with bran.

The two main snail species that were farmed in Roman times, and still are nowadays, are the garden snail (Cornu aspersum) and the Burgundy snail, or escargot (Helix pomatia). Snails were considered an elite food, and were thus quite expensive. Apicius' cookbook "De re coquinaria" includes a recipe for snails in the chapter dedicated to "sumptuous foods", in which the snails are fattened with milk and salt, then fried in oil and served with a wine sauce.

Snails are still farmed and eaten in present-day Italy. In Rome, they are cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, and traditionally eaten on 24 June, the feast of St John the Baptist. Spiders, crickets and cicadas, though widely consumed in other parts of the world, were not - as far as we know - part of the Ancient Roman diet.

This rather convoluted question was written by LadyNym of Phoenix Rising's Red Crew.
6. Nuts grow abundantly in the Mediterranean basin, and were used by the Romans in savoury and sweet dishes. An especially delicious sauce or spread called "moretum", which also included cheese, garlic, and herbs, is considered by some to be the ancestor of which well-known Italian pasta sauce?

Answer: pesto

Moretum was mentioned in a poem by Virgil. It is a spread similar to pesto. His recipe was a spread crushed together with a mortar and pestle that included coriander, celery seed, garlic, and pecorino. Pine nuts were similarly used with a mortar and pestle to create pesto, but a variety of nuts could be added to achieve different flavor profiles. Moretum cheese spread was slathered on bread, and was a poor farmer's meal.

Modern pesto is thought to have originated in Genoa, Italy. It is a sauce made from olive oil, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, and Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

Jaknginger of Phoenix Rising's Red Crew will whip up a version of moretum the next time she comes home with fresh baked bread.
7. No quiz about Ancient Roman cuisine would be complete without a mention of "garum", a pungent condiment that could command very high prices. Which modern condiment, widespread in Southeast Asia, resembles it most?

Answer: fish sauce

Garum was made with fermented fish, including the guts. Garum production yields significant odors, so the factories were generally located outside of town - Pompeii was known to be a center for garum production, but the factory has yet to be uncovered. The most prized garum hailed from the Iberian Peninsula: Cartagena and areas of Portugal were most famous for excellent garum.

As with Vietnamese fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce (which also contains fish!), the condiment added umami flavors to the food being prepared. It was available in three grades - the wealthy consumed true garum, next quality was "liquamen", and the poor had to be satisfied with the dregs remaining after garum and liquamen were harvested; that paste was called "allec", and would be eaten with porridge.

Player pusdoc cooks with nuoc mam and Worcestershire sauce, so she wouldn't turn up her nose at trying garum.
8. A wide variety of desserts were enjoyed in Ancient Rome, even though refined sugar or fresh butter were not available to Roman pastry cooks. One of these, called "placenta", was one of the earliest versions of which luscious modern dessert, often associated with New York City?

Answer: cheesecake

Derived from the Ancient Greek word "plakous". the Latin "placenta" means layered, thin flat breads. A recipe for placenta cake can be found in "De agri cultura" by Cato the Elder (3rd-2nd century BC): a thin pastry dough is spread with cheese and honey, and layered until all ingredients are used up, it is then baked in the oven, and more honey is poured over the top before serving. Bay leaves may have been added as a flavouring. The word "placenta" being used as a name for the mammalian organ of pregnancy is because it is thought to resemble a placenta cake in shape and appearance.

Some modern cultures make desserts similar to the Roman placenta cake, with their name being derivations of the word. Romania ("placinta") and Serbia ("palacinke"), both layered desserts, often including nuts and syrup. The New York cheesecake that has evolved from the placenta cake has moved on from the layers of pastry in favour of more filling.

Red Crew's smpdit has layers.
9. In Ancient Rome, wine was normally mixed with water before drinking. The everyday drink of soldiers and the lower classes, however, was an acidic concoction called "posca", which appears in the narration of the Passion of Jesus Christ. What was its main ingredient?

Answer: vinegar

Posca was a popular drink in both ancient Rome and Greece. It was made by mixing sour wine or vinegar with water and flavouring herbs (such as cumin, fennel seed, pennyroyal, celery seed, anise, thyme, coriander, and salt). The name translates as "very sharp drink".

Originally a medicine used in ancient Greece, it became the main drink for the Roman army. Generals and emperors drank posca to show their solidarity with rank and file soldiers by drinking it. It was also a drink for the less wealthy and slaves from around the 2nd century BC. Other advantages included killing bacteria because of its acidity, preventing scurvy, and helping overcome the foul taste of the local water supply.

The sponge given to Jesus Christ to drink while on the cross, mentioned in the Gospels, is very likely to have been soaked in posca, the common drink of soldiers.

This question was written by 1nn1 of Phoenix Rising.
10. Not all Roman citizens had access to a fully equipped kitchen, and those who lived in apartment buildings availed themselves of a number of establishments viewed as the forerunners of modern fast food restaurants, pubs, and wine bars. How were these places generally regarded?

Answer: they were patronized only by the lower classes

Unlike in our modern society, in Ancient Rome restaurants and their ilk catered mainly to the lower classes - people who lived in the crowded tenements known as "insulae", where cooking on a stove was highly unsafe. The modern concept of gourmet restaurants did not exist, as fine dining happened in the private homes of affluent Roman citizens, or was hosted by social clubs called "collegia", both of which had well-appointed kitchens and trained staff at their disposal.

The vast majority of the citizenship, if their apartment buildings did not offer shared cooking facilities, resorted to buying prepared food from various establishments known as "popinae" (wine shops), "cauponae" (inns), "tabernae" (food stalls or shops), and "thermopolia". The latter, as their name implies, specialized in hot food, which was kept warm in jars embedded in a counter. Examples of all these establishments have been found in various parts of the Roman Empire - Pompeii's Thermopolium of Asellina being one of the most complete. Most of these places operated from the ground floor of "insulae", with a wide doorway open on the street, or within public markets. Some of them also had guest rooms that may have doubled up as brothels - adding to the already disreputable nature of these establishments.

From literary sources, as well as the frescoes that decorated the walls of these establishments, we have an idea of the kind of food that was served there: olives, cured meats, cheese, bread, and nuts, much as in most modern pubs or wine bars, or simple cooked dishes such as grain- or vegetable-based stews.

LadyNym of Phoenix Rising's Red Crew hopes to have catered to all tastes by writing this question.
Source: Author LadyNym

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor Bruyere before going online.
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