Restored Pompeii kitchens give us an idea of how Romans cooked

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An ancient three-storied launderette known as the Fullonica di Stephanus once served the rich and noble Roman families of Pompeii, circa 1st century AD. Historians have visualized how the establishment provided food and refreshments to its famished attendants, while the extravagant patricians sent forth their expensive togas for washing. In line with the prevalent Roman practice, these garments were cleaned in imposing containers by using a composition of clay and urine. And after the rigorous process, these clothes were rinsed and dried on special presses to make them crease-free for the demanding customers.

Well this time around, researchers have been able to restore the actual complementary kitchens of the Fullonica launderette. Simply put, the refurbished kitchens provides us with a glimpse into the ancient techniques and equipment for cooking food. Harking back to a period 2,000 years ago, the restorations showcase how the Romans cooked their food over specifically-made troughs that accommodated burning charcoal.

Food like meat, fish and vegetables were then put on grills that rested atop the flaming charcoal, while accompanying dishes like soups, stews and gravies were concocted in pots and pans that were held by special tripods over the heated troughs.

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All of these antiquated cooking items were originally discovered way back in 1912. In fact, many of the equipment were even arranged in their authentic manner inside the ruins – but were later on distributed to different museums for individual exhibitions. However this time around, the researchers have been able to successfully compile and arrange the cooking objects, thus preserving a slice of ancient Roman culinary history. As Massimo Osanna, the Archaeological Superintendent of Pompeii said –

We’re delighted the pieces have finally been put back on display where they were found and we’re certain they will be appreciated by modern tourists, eager to learn how people lived in antiquity.

Moreover, the public will also have access to additional exhibitions of the ancient Roman culinary scope at Pompeii’s main city gym known as the Pallestra Grande. One nifty example of this interesting display pertains to a 2,000-year old carbonized Roman-made loaf (pictured below) that is accompanied by a metal pot containing the remains of bean and vegetable soup.

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Source: TheLocal / All Images Credit: Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii

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  • Geoff Kieley

    Like almost everyone else in the world, I’ve been to Pompeii, but found that it was hard to really know what was what – thanks to excellent articles like this, my next visit will be a good deal better-informed 🙂

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