A Handbook of Food Processing in Classical Rome: For Her by David Thurmond

By David Thurmond

Rome used to be capable of aid an enormous city inhabitants through delivering it with the rudiments of human nutrients within the kind of processed meals. This quantity features a cautious research of these nutrients tactics. The paintings is geared up at the foundation of the presumed significance of these meals, starting with the so-called Mediterranean Triad of cereals (particularly wheaten bread), olive oil and wine, then facing plant items reminiscent of legumes, greens and culmination, then animal items, and finishing with the condiments (salts, sugars, acids, spices) that have been themselves the brokers for the maintenance of different meals. The paintings combines research of literary and archaeological facts from antiquity with that of conventional comparative practices and smooth foodstuff technology.

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Specifically, threshed grains may be made into various forms of porridge or mixed with lesser quantities of water and fashioned into leavened and unleavened breads. Obviously there is no absolute division in the types of grains which may be used for each—a delicious porridge can be made from the groats of ‘naked’ wheat, and we know perfectly well that breads (presumably flat breads) were sometimes made from ‘husked’ grains such as barley, emmer, and even millet—but in general the husked grains were used in Rome for porridges, and the naked wheats, both durum and common, were used for breads.

There are also three possible examples of breastshot wheels, in which water hits the back of the wheel at or slightly above the level of the axle. Horizontal wheels occur primarily in mountain terrain where streams have greater gradient and velocity. Here water is thrown through a chute upon oblique paddles mounted on the wheel, thus a true turbine. But the only certain examples date only from the seventh century CE, a fact which may not be significant, given the paucity of evidence. Water was provided to the wheels by a variety of natural sources, and the notion that a lack of suitable streams in the Roman Empire hampered diffusion of this technology is mistaken.

The process itself is easy enough to imagine, though even here there were specific adaptations for the specific grains and the desired quality of groats to be derived from them. Pliny53 implies that the pounding of barley to make alica for polenta, barley porridge, was essentially a home operation in which the groats were soaked for an unspecified length of time, then allowed to dry overnight, then roasted and “milled” (he is using the term generically and means “pounded 50 51 52 53 NH Agr. Agr. 112.

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