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Came across this extract:<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>Soldiers in the Roman Army subsisted on a diet made up of very plain foods. Soldiers were required to pay up to one third of their wages for their food. They ate mostly bread, perhaps porridge, cheese or beans with cheap wine to wash it down (Marks, Tingay 16).<br>
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Dupont says that a soldier's diet was even more extremely limited. She reports that Legionaries ate only bread and drank only water plus a little vinegar when the weather was hot. It was considered that "bread was the only food "fit for a soldier, hard food for hard men"(Dupont 125).<hr><br>
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To be found here: Army Food<br>
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Anyone have an opinion, or can point in the direction of another source of reference?<br>
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Anyone got a favourite tidbit or tipple they've tried?<br>
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Jim/Tarbicus. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p200.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=tarbicus>Tarbicus</A> at: 2/6/05 1:10 am<br></i>

Anonymous

Funny, I remember on a history channel program someone said that the Roman army is the only army in history that has no record of men griping about their food. Of couse the average soldier was probably not used to much better than army food.<br>
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However I disagree with the statement that all they ate was bread, though I'd imigine that was their staple. Bread alone will cause some major health problems if one doesn't eat fruits, vegtables, meats and dairy products. One of the things that killed alot of allied POWs in Japanese camps duing World War II was a lack of any foods other than rice. <p></p><i></i>
Junkelmann did an excellen book on this one, 'panis militaris'. I don't know iof it has been translatred. However, even if not it is amply clear the image of the Roman soldier as a grain-munching, vegetarian ascetic is hogwash.<br>
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It is quite likely that Roman soldiers ate mostly cereal products, and quite often only. The options would be either bread (and the ovens often excavated at military sites, plus the general favour bred found in the Roman world - vide Cato's commet onthe ancestors eating no bread - make this the more likely) or porridges (which would be easier to make and have 'mos maiorum' stamp of approval). I suspect that bread was favored because the organisation was there. On the march I also think simple flatbread would be the better option (if the troops aren't carrying biscuits) because cooking pulses, while easy, is much more time-consuming (cracked wheat that isn't parboiled takes hours).<br>
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That is not yet saying the bread (or porridge) was hard, grainy and plain. We know Roman soldiers preferred wheat over all other grains, and while their bread was unlikely to be made of bolted flour, it would not necessarily be made of coarse-ground meal, especially if larger mills are at hand. Cato's 'de agri cultura' is a good source for the kind of feast day cuisine we can expect in a rural, simple context, and he has a variety of breads, cakes and pulses that can be made tasty with local herbs, cheese, honey, caroenum and other ingredients that would have been available without problems. There is no reason to assume the troops would not have done this when time and finances permitted, and I think modern research is in agreement that Roman soldiers were not poor.<br>
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We also have archeological evidence from military sites for consumption of oil, olives, dates, fish and meat of various animals, and garum. There is no way we can gauge the frequency, but it was certainly there. Personally, given the ready availability of meat and dairy products in much of northern Europe, fish and olive oil in the med, dates and sesame oil on the Euphrates frontier and local fruit and vegetables everywhere, I find the idea that Roman soldiers did not eat them pretty inconceivable.<br>
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When it comes to beverages, water must certainly have played a role - the Romans relished good drinking water. However, wine can not be excluded given that the explosion of vineyards in northern Gaul and the trade to the Rhine and Britain had as its main customer base communities of soldiers and veterans. Then there are the amphora shards in military sites. In Roman literature, the soldier stereotype is so frequently drunk we would come to believe they spent their days staggering from popina to popina. This is certainly exaggerated, but to assume they did not drink alcoholic beverages at all is unwarranted. Maybe no beer, at least in the first and second generation. I'm not even sold on the idea that posca involved vinegar rather than sour wine or verjuice. I've tried all three, and the first is the least satisfying unless you use very high-quality wine vinegar.<br>
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Papyrological evidence indicates soldiers occasionally requisitioned, 'liberated' or extorted foodstuff and those on official business could claim hospitality, including food. Thus we know that at least in the East the troops liked local fare. Since we also know it was for sale I think it is a safe assumption to make that they also bought it, though I have yet to see a piece of evidence that actually proves this<br>
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My reconstruction of a Roman soldier's daily fare would revolve around simple whole wheat bread, but include (depending on season and location) olive or sesame oil, 'formaticum' cheese, olives, dates, fresh fruit, onions, garlic, fresh or dried herbs, curdled milk, cooked vegtables, beans or peas, and sometimes bacon or cured ham, pickled, smoked or dried fish (though not of course, all at the same time. That is the hallmark of a refrigerator culture). None of these items would have been prohibitively expensive, and all could have been made readily available. The common drink would have been water, sometimes mixed with vinegar or low-quality wine.<br>
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On holidays, there may have been finer fare - fresh meat (of sacrificial animals) or fish (bought - the Romans did not sacrifice fish the Promethean way), honey, caroenum, imported dainties or elaborately cooked dishes. I can make most of Apicius' and Vinidarius' stuff with the resources of a field kitchen, given enough time and helpers, but that, of course, would have been the crux most days. <p></p><i></i>
Thanks for those replies.<br>
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One question: as water borne disease was the most common killer in the world before purification (hence cheap ale and spirits being the most common drink certainly in more northern parts of Europe - booze or death) would it not make sense that alcohol consumption was more widespread than believed?<br>
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Jim/Tarbicus <p></p><i></i>
Actually, whether waterborne diseases were as major killers in pre-modern times as is assumed from modern experience has been questioned recently. I woin't pretend I fully understand the argument as it was explained to me - something to do with population density and the virulence of intestinal bugs. At any rate, the assumption that crowded pre-modern cities invariably succumbed to the runs is dubious, though the case is far from closed.<br>
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You also need to factor in that people had a good appreciation of what constituted 'good' water. They had to drink lousy stuff every now and then, but not by choice. In Roman times, much effort was expended on getting good water (as was done in the middle ages, but the political structure of the medieval city - separate from its surrounding countryside - as opposed to that of the Roman civitas - ruling its pagus - made aqueducts problematic.) I've drunk from the Aqua Virgo and I'm still alive.<br>
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Finally, I'm not sure they were aware of the sterilising effect of alcohol. Preferring clean wine to dirty water must have come naturally, but I doubt we can read a medical intent into it. Otherwise, would they have mixed their wines as freely with water? (2 parts wine to 5 parts water sounds insufficient to me if you want to kill germs).<br>
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I guess alcohol consumption must hae been quite common. We should look at Mediterranean traditions here - in Italy, diluted wine was a common beverage for everyone up to the last century. However, in financial straits, or in logistically tight corners, water must have been the drink of necessity. I personally speculate the Romans drank much - whenever I read about the 'thick, syrupy, heavy wines of Antiquity' that allegedly needed dilution I can't help wondering how they managed that in the Moselle valley. I rather suspect they liked the soft-drink feeling of drinking large quantities of cool liquid in summer. But that is pure speculation on my part. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Regarding Roman soldiers not griping about their food. I stumbled upon this:<br>
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Picture in your mind's eye the ruins of an ancient Roman outpost in the forests of northeastern France. Within the overgrown walls, the archaeologists labor in this dustbin of history. They come across a fragment of a clay tablet and on it they make out the words:<br>
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"Victusrigidus, victusrigidus<br>
Num quam postea reveni."<br>
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home.earthlink.net/~turne...tions3.htm <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Sorry, my Latin is next to non-existent. Meaning? <p>Homo Homini Lupus Every Man is a Wolf to Another Man</p><i></i>

Anonymous

The above link I posted had the translation three lines further down.<br>
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"Hardtack, hardtack<br>
Come again no more."<br>
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The web page is an article about hardtack. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p200.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=danielraymondhoward>Daniel Raymond Howard</A> at: 2/7/05 12:21 pm<br></i>

Anonymous

Ah! Thankee kindly. <p>Homo Homini Lupus Every Man is a Wolf to Another Man</p><i></i>

Anonymous

One interesting point. Saint George was originally a Christian salt pork dealer in Syria who sold some dodgy barrels of the stuff to the Roman army. They came around and lynched him - no maiden, no dragon, but we now know that they ate salt pork!<br>
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Celer. <p></p><i></i>
If you mix vinegar with water, it will kill loads of the little bacteria that are harmful to humans, and incidently, make posca, which takes getting used to, but after learning to like it you can find it quite refreshing, like Kvas in Ukraine, the first time, it's really a strange taste, but then you start to really like it, even though you know where it comes from!<br>
<p>"Just before class started, I looked in the big book where all the world's history is written, and it said...." Neil J. Hackett, PhD ancient history, professor OSU, </p><i></i>

Anonymous

I thought Hardtrack was translated as "Bucellatum"?<br>
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Caius Fabius - Your Vinegar-Water mix "getting used to it" sounds a little like Moxie! <p>Titus Vulpius Dominicus ~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Roman Dude.<br>
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Svaviter in Modo, Fortiter in Re (Soft in Manner, Strong in Deed)<br>
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www.higgins.org <br>
www.higginssword.org </p><i></i>
Thanks everyone, yet again very helpful and informative.<br>
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Has anyone ever tried fish sauce (garum)? For us Brits, I believe Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce may be a very distant cousin to garum as it contains anchovies. I think I'll skip the watered down vinegar, though. Pepto Bismol's bad enough.<br>
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Jim/Tarbicus<br>
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addendum: Just found a recipe for garum, and it definitely ain't too far removed from lovely Worcester Sauce.<br>
Garum Fish Sauce. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p200.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=tarbicus>Tarbicus</A> at: 2/9/05 9:48 am<br></i>

Anonymous

As someone who occasionally attempts Roman cooking, that's worth knowing. <p>Homo Homini Lupus Every Man is a Wolf to Another Man</p><i></i>
I have used garum in a number of recipes, including a baked honey-pear custard, but I don't make my own. The closest you can get these days it seems is a Southeast Asian sauce called Nuoc Mam or Nam Pla. It tastes vaguely of anchovies and stronmgly of salt, and it stinks to high heaven (I keep it in my fridge in a closed bottle double-wrapped in two plastic bags).<br>
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If you don't overdo it, it works pretty well. Sometime this spring I want to try Anthimus' chicken souffle steamed in garum. <p></p><i></i>
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