How They Did It - Fast Food in Ancient Rome DOCUMENTARY

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We explore the world of Fast Food in ancient Roman! Support the channel and download Rise of Kingdoms for free: and use the bonus code ROKVIKINGS for in-game rewards. You can also join the promotional event here: for the chance to win an iPhone 12.

In this How They Did It episode, we provide a history documentary on the fast food of ancient Rome and are joined by a special guest, Max Miller from Tasting History. The episode begins by taking a look at the general food service industry of antiquity. It turns out that most citizens of Rome, especially the urban plebs, did not live in your typical Roman Domus but rather was crammed into a large apartment complex called an Insula. In such housing they had little space to do their own cooking. Therefore they were forced to go out to get their food. As a result, many shops popped up across Rome to feed these masses. They were a part of the larger practice of the Tabernae which acted as shops and workshops across the city to provide all kinds of goods and services.

We then look at the food related Tabernae, and more specifically the Popina snack shops. This is based on archaeological findings at Herculaneum and Ostia as well as the recent discovery of a Thermopolium at Pompeii, also known as a Popina or snack food bar. We recreate the key characteristics of these ancient fast food shops which closely resembled a modern shawarma shop.

Next we take a look at the likely menu of these Roman fast food shops. We begin by looking at the sorts of meals Roman had in general. This includes Ientaculum, the Roman Breakfast, Prandium, the Roman Lunch, and Cena, the Roman Dinner. The fast food shops would provide for all of these. On the dollar menu for instance would be cheap goods like porridge, nuts, and chieckpeas. On the main menu would be meats, eggs, cheese, bread, produce, seadfood, and all kinds of prepared meals. The documentary covers how these were purchased and consumed. Max Miller from Tasting History provides some insight here on what things would be like on both sides of the ancient Roman kitchens.

I've been super excited putting this episode together on fast food in ancient Rome and can't wait to cover more history documentaries on ancient cooking. What other How They Did It episodes would you like to see?

Research: Chris Das Neves
Script: Chris Das Neves
Narration: Invicta
Artwork: Beverly Johnson
Editing: Penta Limited
Music: Assassin's Creed Odyssey OST

Bibliography and Suggested Works
The Loaded Table by Emily Gowers
Eating and Drinking in Roman Britain by H. E. M. Cool
A Companion to Food in the Ancient World eds. John Wilkins and Robin Nadeau
The World of Pompeii eds. John Dobbins and Pedar Foss
Daily Life in the Roman City by Gregory Aldrete
Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic by Claire Holleran
City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age by PD Smith.

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