Though present day Italians are known for pizza and pasta, they were not part of the traditional Roman diet. In early Rome, food consisted of mostly soup and boiled meats, and they did not bake bread. Later with influence from cultures they had conquered, the Romans adapted to a new menu. The rich had a large variety and quantity of food to consume. Breakfast consisted of bread and cheese. Lunch consisted of bread, meat, and fruit. Dinner, which would be served later in the afternoon, could be a three-course meal. Plebeians did not have as great a variety or quantity of food. Meat, for instance, might be served on special occasions; but it was not part of their daily diet.
Preparation of the Roman food took a lot of labor. Flour was ground between two heavy stones and then sifted. Pestles and mortars, seen as symbols for pharmacists today, would be used to crush nuts or herbs. Most Romans like their food spicy with a lot of pepper. Utensils made of iron were very expensive, so the average Roman used bronze knives and spoons. Forks were not used by the Romans, who often ate with their fingers. Plates for the average Roman were wooden or pottery, while the rich ate off metal plates of tin, bronze or pewter. Romans did not use soap so the cleaning of the bowls was done by rinsing with water. Metal dishes and utensils were cleaned by rubbing sand on them and then rinsing with water. (Williams 2003)
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