Author: Feldman, Charles
Source: Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of MultidisciplinaryResearch, 1 March 2005, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 7-30(24)
Abstract:Clearly a precarious topic, ancient Roman tastes were defined by a combination of ideological and sensory considerations. The ancient sources appear to lead to some confusion as to what defines good or proper taste, and this confusion could represent social conflict in Rome. Exotica and elaborate cookery certainly moved elite Romans away from the tastes and eating practices of their agrarian ancestors and sometimes the distance between those Romans who were able to eat elaborately was quite far over those who could not. Other times, elite culinary difference was expressed though simpler foods or subtle flavor notes. In addition, a number of Roman ingredients have been cited by ancient sources as having popular appeal regardless of their generally repulsive flavor characteristics.
This article attempts at an understanding of what constitutes Roman elite taste consciousness, or how Roman taste was motivated by forces outside of physiology such as culture or status. This inquiry assumes that there were two criteria for elite food access. First, a Roman noble needed to have the proper "taste" for elite entitlement. Second, this person needed established culinary resources to sustain his or her elite position. Evidence is gathered from across antiquity, although the period of particular interest to this discussion is the late Republic and early Imperial eras, when social power was concentrating into the hands of a few.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2005-03-01T00:00:00