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Partridges in world of Romans

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Partridge on Roman mosaic
Partridge on Roman mosaic | Photo: Walters Art Museum

Ancient Romans valued partridge meat very much. The partridge was an expensive bird, however. Martial mentions it in his “Epigrams”, which says that only the rich could afford them.

Interestingly, however, preserved eggshells were found in Pompeii, which was subjected to research. The eggs were in one of the tenement houses in a poorer district. As it turns out, they were mostly chicken eggs, but there were also partridge eggs. Scientists say that chicken eggs were part of the diet of the Romans; in turn, partridge eggs may prove that they were bred for profit and were stolen from the nests of wild birds. People with a lower social status, after breeding birds, could sell them for meat. However, this is only a hypothesis.

In the famous cookbook of Apicius “De re coquinaria” several recipes for cooking partridge meat have been preserved. One of the dishes involves preparing and serving meat with pepper, mint, blueberries, honey and wine.

  • Sean Mowbray, Partridge eggs for non-elite Pompeiians? You can sit with us, "Ancient History Magazine", 42

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