+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

tender parts of peacocks, wild boar, oysters,
blackbirds, deer, hares, spices from all countries,
and ingenious forms of pastrythese were
dressed up in a thousand different ways, so that
Apicius could leave ten books of receipts. The
Romans had three daily meals. The jentaculum,
or breakfast, the prandium, or dinner, and the
cœna, or supper. The first consisted of bread
and salt, olives, cheese, dried grapes, and
sometimes milk and eggs. The prandium was more
like our meat luncheon. It consisted of warm
or cold meat, the remains of yesterday's supper;
and, in luxurious houses, of oysters, eggs, and
sweets. The drinks were water, wine, and
mulsuma beverage composed of wine and
honey. The cœna was an elaborate affair,
divided into three courses: the first, gustus, or
promulsis, was something like the "whet" of a
modern French dinner, only of a more substantial
kind: oysters, eggs, broths, light vegetables,
especially lettuces, with piquant sauces, and
digestible fish. Only mulsum was drunk with
this course. With the second course, or fercula,
the serious business began. A huge roast, say
a wild boar served up whole, was placed on the
table; then came hares, pigeons, peacocks,
flammingos, ostrich eggs, rare fishes, parrot heads,
and nightingale tongues. The wine was cooled
by snow. Besides wine, there were various
other drinksbeer, camum, and zythumwhatever
they may have been. Then followed the
third course, mensæ secundæ, consisting of fruit,
sweetmeats, delicate dishes of many kinds.
Fingers, of course, were liberally soiled in eating
of these dishes, and instead of wiping them on
bread-crumb, as the Greeks did, the Romans
used napkins, each guest bringing his own.
The women ate with the men; but they sat,
while the men, in later years, reclined on sofas.
Slaves carved the joints, keeping strict time to
the accompaniment of music.

The Egyptians brewed beer from barley, baked
bread from the meal of the lotos-seed, and
distilled oil from olives. The immense richness of
the soil, which in the Nile delta gave four crops
a year, furnished abundant vegetable food, and
the Nile furnished abundant fish. Upon fish,
lotos, garlic, melons, and dates, the poorer
classes chiefly subsisted. Those who could
afford flesh, preferred the quail, the duck, the
goose, and beef; very often the meat was simply
salted, and eaten without further cookery. Not
but what the Egyptian cooks displayed
considerable ingenuity. Sir Gardiner Wilkinson's
researches show them to have understood
various modes of preparing dishes, especially of
pastry. The drinks were numerous. It was
the custom during a banquet to carry round a
coffin, containing a painted corpse, made of
wood, which was shown to each guest, as a
memento that he, too, must one day die, and
that the best thing he could do was to enjoy
the present moment. The Egyptians sat at
table, and used a wooden or ivory spoon to aid
their fingers. Dances and music enlivened the

The Iberians were almost exclusively animal
feeders. Of cookery they had but the simplest
ideas: raw or roasted meat, with wine and
mulsum, summed up their notions of a banquet.
The Lusitanians only drank water, and ate
scarcely any flesh but that of goats. The Gauls
were equally indifferent to vegetable food.
They preferred swine's-flesh, roasted, salted, or
smoked. They drank wine, milk, and a barley
drink; but wine was their especial favourite,
because it intoxicated them. Maidens and
youths waited at meals. The men sat on the
skins of wild beasts. The ancient Germans
were likewise mainly animal feeders, and huge
feeders. Wild boar, hare, deer, aurochs, black-
cock, wild-goose, duck, pigeon, sheep, pigs,
oxen, and horses, with some fishes, were eaten
raw as well as roasted. When the flesh was
eaten raw, it was generally kneaded by hands
and feet, in the skin, until it was tolerably soft.
They drank must, meth, beer, and wine, and
drank it unstintingly.

The Jews made supper their chief meal, and
generally did not break their fast until after the
morning prayer. On the Sabbath no breakfast
was eaten. Before and after meals hands were
washed, and a grace was said. The meats and
vegetables were handed round in dishes, and the
guests helped themselves with fingers and bread
crusts to as much as they fancied. In ancient
times they sat at table, but in later times the
fashion of reclining on divans came in. Many
meats were forbidden: for example, the flesh of
all animals which had died a natural death,
which were killed by other animals, and which,
when killed by man, had not lost the greater
part of their blood. To eat blood, or meat with
the blood in it, was to incur the penalty of
death. Pork, we need scarcely add, was not
eaten, except, perhaps, here and there by a Jew
of a sceptical turn of mind. There were also
parts of the fat and flesh which were forbidden,
and no meat cooked in milk was permitted.
Hares and camels, donkeys and dogs, many birds,
all reptiles, and some fishes, were likewise

The Hindoos were, and are, very simple in
their diet. The chief article was rice (in Sanscrit
richa, in Persian rizeh, in Greek oryzon),
from which they also made a sort of wine, which,
however, was only drunk on festal occasions;
in general they drank only water. There was a
favourite dish called krishara, a sort of thick
riz au lait, made of rice, milk, sugar, and cardamoms.
Intoxicating drinks were forbidden;
nevertheless, beer, meth, barley wine, palm wine, cocoa
milk, were secretly indulged in; and, in spite of
religious scruples, much wine was drunk. The
Persians, according to Strabo, fed luxuriously
on animal and vegetable diet; huge animals
being roasted whole, and washed down with
copious draughts of wine; but we know nothing
of the food of the people, it is only the banquets
of princes, splendid with goblets and salvers,
that have been thought worthy of mention. The
ancient Arabs were often named after the food
they ate; thus we hear of the rhizophagists
(root eaters), kreophagists (flesh eaters), and