People in the ancient age were used to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. In fact, meat was so expensive and rare that only noblemen and rich people could afford it.
In particular Romans were really lucky, not only because the Italian soil is fertile, thanks to the volcanos, but also because the Roman empire had well-travelled commercial routes, which gave Romans a lot of products from almost everywhere. Moreover, they were always testing and making new recipes and dishes, as Romans were absolutely curious. Due to these reasons, they had a lot of different kinds of food, especially fruits and vegetables. Today I’m going to explain this topic, which I reckon is really interesting.
Figs grew in Egypt, Palestine, Greece and in the Caucasian regions. When Romans started to be in touch with Middle – Eastern and Greek people, they begun to eat figs. They were a popular food, eaten both dried and fresh. Romans were used to eat them as a snack, although Galen, one of the most important doctor of the Ancient age, stated that people who ate only grapes and figs for a short time were healtier than the others. On the other hand, Cato, another Roman writer, affirmed that, during the figs’ season, it was better to eat figs instead of bread, especially for breeding slaves.
Apples were absolutely popular in the Ancient Age, due to the fact that they were cheap. Moreover, they didn’t need too many cares. Romans were used to eat apples both raw and cooked with honey or molasses. It’s interesting to point out that Romans knew the beet sugar.
Pears grew both in Asia and Europe. Plinius the Elder listed a lot of differents kinds of pears, whose names came from their discoverer (Aniciana, Tiberiana, Pomposiana). Romans ate pears both raw and cooked with honey or molasses. Some people were used to boil pears with wine.
Peaches originally grew in China, but they were brought to Persia and then to Europe. Their Latin name in fact comes from Persia.
At the beginning they were popular only in Egypt. Then, after the conquer of Egypt by Alexander the Great, peaches started to be exported in Europe during the I century AC. Peaches weren’t so popular for the Romans, because they were rare and expensive. They started to be a common fruit only when they were farmed in Italy, especially in the South.
It originally grew in a region between China and Russia. Europeans discovered apricots when Alexander the Great went to Armenia. Surprisingly apricots started to be common in Europe when Romans conquered the Middle – East. Moreover, thanks to the Romans, apricots started to be farmed also in Greece. People ate apricots both fresh and dry, especially in the seasons where it couldn’t be possible to eat them.