Although there were many different types of people in Ancient Rome, nearly all of them had the same dining rituals. Breakfast and lunch were light meals. Lunch was usually a cold meal and it was eaten around 11:00 a.m. Dinner was the most important meal of all. The dining room was called a triclinium, and it consisted of a square table surrounded by three couches. Wealthy Romans probably would have had several dining rooms to entertain more guests or they would eat outside if the weather was nice. Diners had a unique way of eating. They would lie on their sides, leaning on their left elbows while facing the table. Their servants or slaves would serve them food. The diners would then eat the food with their fingers and sometimes spoons were used. Wealthy families would usually have three courses. The appetizers, gustatio, would include eggs, shellfish or vegetables. The entrees, prima mensa, would usually be cooked vegetables and meat. The dessert, mensa secunda, would usually be fruit or pastries. Drinking wine was part of daily life as well.
If guests were invited, the dinners were much more extravagant. These dinner parties would involve many elaborate courses. Hosts would try to impress their guests with the meals, often offering unique dishes, like ostrich or flamingo. There would often be entertainment between each course, and a literary performance after dinner. Also, there was special seating arrangement for guests. Guests were seated according to their status. The best seat was on the middle couch, to the right of the host.
For most Romans, however, dinner was much more simple. Poor Romans often ate cold food due to their lack of cooking facilities. They would usually only eat porridge and bread, and would buy meat and vegetables only if they could afford them. Although dinner menus may have been different among the Roman families, dinnertime was an important part of being a Roman, no matter what their status was.
EDIT: 12-10-11 Rojen: scanned for spelling and plagiarism. added reference to docstoc due to very similar topic and phrasing.
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"The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire. Life In Roman Times. Home Life | PBS." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. 2006. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/home.html>.
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