Fast Food In The Ancient Roman World

   A fast food place (known as a thermopolium) uncovered at Pompeii, Italy gives us a glimpse of everyday life in the Ancient Roman world.
   Thermopolia were quite common in Roman towns and cities. There are over 80 in the ruins of Pompeii alone. They were places where people could stop by to get hot food and drink. While some thermopolia had a room in back for people to dine in, many did not. So it appears that these places were often used as take out.
   This particular thermopolium has the typical counter whose top contains a row of sizable holes. These holes are the tops of embedded jars called dolia. Since the dolia were built in, they probably held dried foods such as nuts because cleaning them out would have been clearly problematic otherwise.
   Thermopolia served a variety of things such as wine, meats, cheeses, fish, lentils, and nuts. A sauce made of fish guts called garum would have often been involved since it was commonly used back then, similar to how something like ketchup is today.
   While the wealthy may have gone to Thermopolia on occasion, it was probably ordinary people on the lower end of the financial spectrum who frequented these establishments the most because the majority of lower or middle class Romans who were in towns and cities lived in apartment buildings called insulae. The apartments (especially those for the poor) were often small, cramped, and without a private kitchen. As a result, the lower classes would often frequent thermopolia for prepared meals.
   Decorations in thermopolia varied. For some, they would have been quite simple while others more elaborate. This particular thermopolium has multiple frescoes whose subjects include one with two mallard ducks, one of a rooster, and another of a mythological figure. A fresco of a dog was discovered which is unique in that a person(s) of the time had scratched some graffiti along its edge insulting someone, possibly the proprietor of the establishment.
   While there are certainly major differences between our time and the ancient Roman world, there are similarities too. They were human beings trying to live their lives.
   Check out the links below for more information and photos, including about the thermopolium discussed in this piece.

A thermopolium at Herculeaneum. On the right, you can see how dolia were built in to the counters.

Be Careful What You Feed Your Pet This Holiday!

I know during the Holidays when you’re eating lots of good food, it is so tempting to treat your pets as well, especially dogs!
They look at you with those pleading eyes, and you can’t seem to resist!
But be careful, many pets get sick during the Holidays because they eat food that upset their GI System.
If your pet is on a prescription diet, do not give them any table scraps! None!
If your pet is on normal over the counter food and is healthy, still be careful.
Do not feed pets any bones!
Not one bone!
Don’t feed them hot, spicy foods!
Do not feed them things such as chocolate, coffee, caffeine, almonds, macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes, garlic, onions, chives, anything with xylitol in it, or raw/undercooked meat.
For a healthy dog or cat, a little boneless, cooked turkey is probably just fine. Lots of dogs enjoy that. Though be aware that some pets have sensitive GI tracts so that eating things outside their regular diet can potentially cause GI upset.
So, have a nice Holiday, and be careful what you feed your pet!