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McRoman – fast-food in ancient Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

McRoman, or fast-food in ancient Rome
McRoman, or fast-food in ancient Rome

It is widely believed that fast food bars are a modern invention. However, ancient Rome does not quite agree with this statement.

The first recipe for an ancient burger can be found in the cookbook Apicius, written in the first century CE. More often, however, the name “On the Subject of Cooking” is used. The precursor of the modern burger is called “isicia omentata”, and it was made of minced meat, wine and pepper, it was also generously poured with garum, a Roman fish sauce.

More importantly, Pompeii contains the remains of various fast-food bars. You could buy both alcohol and cheap food, very often taken to take away. Such places were open directly to the street, and their decor was confusingly modern. This is also emphasized by the fact that some were built in such a way that a potential customer could buy food without leaving the cart. This is a kind of drive-through prototype.

Roman burger

Based on these findings, it is likely that this type of premises could also be found elsewhere in the Roman Empire. And indeed, it is suspected that they existed in almost all major cities.

In addition, plates and dishes in homes were often found outside the kitchen and dining room, which were often quite poorly equipped. Their remains can be found in bedrooms or offices. This indicates people who lived in a hurry and often ate outside the home.

It is also worth remembering that the food served in Roman fast food bars was healthier than today, and the hamburger itself was much more nutritious.

Roman fast-food
Author: Natalia Wilczyńska
  • David Matz, Daily Life of the Ancient Romans
  • Marisa Ranieri Panetta, Pompeii: The History, Life and Art of the Buried City Hardcover
  • Photo: © Picture by Dave Thompson / Route OnePhotography / English Heritage

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