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Dining with the Romans

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Stationers' Hall

Ave Maria Lane

London

EC4M 7DD

United Kingdom

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Did the Romans really gorge themselves on dormice, wine, mackerel, oysters and olive oil? Were their lives truly a ceaseless series of lavish dinner parties? Was Garum considered a delicacy and why was it so popular?

Our speakers Dr Paul Roberts, Prue Leith CBE and Sally Grainger will dive into an exploration of the extravagance of Roman Dining and the indulgence of mystifying delicacies, with Dr Peter Jones MBE as the facilitator. As the topic of the everyday lives of Romans heats up, research into the diets of Roman people is intensifying. Roman food has long been studied and considered, often with textual references, such as Apicius’ cookbook and Trimalchio’s dinner party, being the focus of research. As the archaeological technique has developed, excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum have uncovered some of the richest material evidence in the Roman world. Unearthing detailed frescoes, complex mosaics, and excellently preserved sewer remains to allow greater insight into the culinary world of the Ancients.

Join us to hear more about this fascinating topic, followed by a Q&A and specially-themed reception.


Dr Paul Roberts, Curator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

"The evocative names given to the excavations (the Villa of the Mysteries; the House of the Tragic Poet) have inspired everything from Victorian exhibitions, swords-and-sandals romances to countless scholarly works. Our fascination with the doomed people of Pompeii and their everyday lives has never waned. What better connection can we make with them as ordinary people than through their food and drink?"

Paul Roberts is Sackler Keeper of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum. He is also a governing body Fellow at Wolfson College. Formerly, he was Roman Curator (1994-2007) and Senior Roman Curator (2007-2015) in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum, London, where he curated the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (2013).

Paul read Classics at Cambridge University (1980-83) and obtained an MPhil (1987) and PhD (1992) in Classical Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. His postgraduate degrees, under the expert supervision of the late John Lloyd, focussed on ceramic evidence for Hellenistic and Roman trade routes of the central and Eastern Mediterranean. As part of this Paul carried out fieldwork in Turkey, Greece, Libya, and in particular, central/southern Italy - Molise, Puglia and Lazio. He lived in Italy for much of the 1980s teaching, then excavating and researching, including long periods at the British School at Rome.


Prue Leith CBE, Chef, author and presenter

The history of food and its presentation is a fascinating subject, and none more than the dining habits of the Romans – from exquisite salads and oysters imported from Britain, to the excesses of ground pearls in dishes just to add expense, live mullet pickled at the table so diners could admire their iridescence as they thrashed about in the vinegar, and peas wrapped in gold leaf.

Prue Leith CBE, is a restaurateur, chef, caterer, television presenter/broadcaster, businesswoman, journalist, cookery writer and novelist. She is Chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

She founded Leith's School of Food and Wine which trains professional chefs and amateur cooks and is a food columnist for, successively, the Daily Mail, Sunday Express, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror. Prue has been a non-executive director of British Rail, among numerous other organisations and is a director and investor in several start-up companies. She has also been involved in many diverse organisations: she chaired the Restaurateurs Association and the Royal Society of Arts. While at the Royal Society of Arts she led the successful campaign to use the empty plinth (now known as the Fourth Plinth) in Trafalgar Square to house changing sculptures or installations by the best contemporary artists.


Sally Grainger, Roman Food Historian

"The Romans travelled the known world with a triad of liquids - oil, wine and fish sauce. Where ever they went these liquids followed and often it is the tell tale sign of the strangely shaped amphora with the point at the bottom that tells archaeologists that the Romans had arrived! We all understand the oil and wine but the fish sauce is a mystery...? Or at least it was. Roman fish sauce was virtually the same as the Thai and Vietnamese sauces we know today and they are valued because of the magic that is umami. The essence of deliciousness!"

After working as a pastry chef for 10 years, Sally Grainger read Classical Studies at Royal Holloway before building a career in reconstruction archaeology. Sally's focus on recreating ancient food and cooking techniques inspired her to create her first Roman Banquet while studing her Bachelor's degree and venturing on to obtain an MA in archaeology from Reading University.

After establishing her presence in the archaeological world, Sally has become a well known food historian. She has presented banquets and food demonstrations at the British Museum, the Museum of London, several Roman villas, and various other locations.

Alongside publishing a new edition of Apicius with her husband, and lecturing on Ancient cooking techniques, Sally has appeared in TV documentaries such as Time Team, A History of Ancient Britain and Rome's Lost Empire.

To close our talk, we will be welcoming Dr Paulette Osborne MBE and Sonia Thompson, from St. Matthew's C of E Primary School in Birmingham, to give a brief speech on the impact of classics in their school.

About Classics for All

Classics for All (CfA) is a national charity founded in 2010 to reverse the decline in classics teaching (Latin, Ancient Greek, ancient history, classical civilisation) in state schools and to raise the aspirations and attainment of young people. CfA is the only organisation that offers Continuing Professional Development for non-specialist teachers keen to establish an after school club or make classics part of the curriculum. Since our launch, we have supported 800 primary and secondary schools, benefitting more than 45,000 pupils across the UK.

Classics for All is a Registered Charity (no. 1135379)

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Stationers' Hall

Ave Maria Lane

London

EC4M 7DD

United Kingdom

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Refunds up to 1 day before event

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