When does dinner require no table?

a quick peek at

………..a meal in ancient Rome……………

Did early Romans  and those party-loving Etruscans ever wonder if they would run out of pasta, fish or wine?  ( We are still in B.C. mode here.)  Plutarch was a Greek-born writer, later a citizen of Rome who spoke and wrote freely about Italy’s food-centric exploits. He seemed mostly worried that too many guests would interfere with sociability and conversation since that was key to their get togethers.  Today, we can have a room crowded with silent folks all looking at their cell phones.

The ancients argued about where to place whom, with careful consideration to the “contentious, abusive and quick-tempered………..”  Conversation was a main element at the meal. They debated trivia, politics, social status, ideas, and mixed it all up with enough gossip to keep things lively. They ate with their fingers, spilled food on the floor, reclined on couches in rooms lavishly decorated. Frescos, mosaics, wall tapestries and art objects filled the room, and flower petals littered the floor.  Up popped my remembrance of the food-littered floor in a MacDonald’s in Venice.  Tourists are just rude, gods not in the picture.

Food and material accumulations were both very important, especially to the Etruscans, who carved sarcophagi statuary holding plates laden with foods from their last feast for the afterlife and their meeting with the gods. Personal goods and even chariots were buried with their remains. The gods were kept in mind constantly by verbal and physical reminders and  ubiquitous superstitions. That’s where salt over the shoulder came from, except they would throw a bunch on the floor for good measure. ……can’t you just visualize the rapid-fire verbal banter, gestures, ascending pitch, and personality mix …..not unlike my last dinner party come to think of it.


Find this article: and learn more about recipes that have their roots in ancient Rome


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