The Pantry of Senex Caecilius

The small room (cella) off the kitchen is a combination scullery and pantry. On a farm this size, there are many mouths to feed, and the kitchen is always busy. Having another area to store the provisions, wash the dishes, peel the vegetables, and do the other kitchen chores is essential. Large, half-buried jars (dōlia dēfossa) store a variety of foodstuffs, and built-in shelves house the plates, platters, bowls, and other dishes. You may take a peek inside, but please close up when you leave.

The kitchen itself is much larger than the one at my domus in Rome, but then Véronique does not have to cook for such a mob of people, and there is a bakery just down the street. In this kitchen, I suspect that the oven is always fired.

Here is some information about the preparation and preservation of food:

  • Pickling preserved some foods; drying, smoking, and salting preserved meat and fish.
  • Meat was typically boiled with spicy sauces rather than being roasted or fried.
  • Most food was cooked with a rich assortment of herbs, spices, nuts, fruit, and honey.
  • Imported spices included cardemom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper.
  • Fermented fish scraps provided various sauces: garum, liquamen, and muria.

    Some of the preceding information comes from Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, written by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins and published in1994 by The Oxford University Press (New York).

    [ villa rustica ]