"The Romans served many different appetizers to begin their banquets. The most popular items were seasoned eggs and egg-based dishes, vegetables, salad, mushrooms and truffles, assorted shellfish, cheese with herbs, olives, sausages, and even more filling dishes, such as complicated fricassees and casseroles, which today would be considered complete meals in themselves."
IDEAS FOR YOUR ROMAN MENU
- Make a Greek snack platter with cheese, bread, grapes, figs, and nuts
- Greek Salad -- lettuce, tomato, feta cheese,and olives with a vinaigrette dressing
- Ambrosia -- food of the gods-- in this case more of a marshmallow, jell-o salad
- Pig on a Spit -- If you're going all out, a roast pig with an apple in its mouth makes a great toga party food
- Wine served in jugs
- Kegs of Beer
- Water or Sparkling Grape Juice for those who don't drink alcohol
TIPS AND IDEAS ON MAKING THE PERFECT ROMAN MEAL FOR YOUR GUESTS
- Roman meal usually began with eggs and ended with fruit.
- Fill gold or silver platters (can bepurchased inexpensively at a party store) with fresh chunks of cheese in a variety of colors, huge bunches of grapes still on the vine, fruits, dates, figs and nuts, and big whole loaves of bread in varying sizes.
- Dishes were eaten with bread —that was never absent.
- The Romans seemed to be particularly fond of sauces as it gave a cook the opportunity to make a dish seem a little bit more exciting that it may have been without the sauce.
- For heartier fare, serve chicken with figs, a phyllo spinach tart, and garlicky olives.
- Whatever you serve, you can put it into this Roman menu template and have it listed for your guests. (Menu design included with Terror in a Toga mystery packet.)
SERVING YOUR FOOD:
- Cover the platters with ivy vines.
- Serve robust wine from a terra cotta urn or golden pitchers.
- The Romans ate mainly with their fingers and so the food was cut into bite size pieces.
- Slaves would continually wash the guests' hands throughout the dinner.
ROMAN TRADITIONS FOR YOUR MEAL
As soon as guests arrived in the home of an ancient Greek host, servants brought in vases of water so they might freshen themselves. After the guests had washed their hands and feet, they were given goblets of wine and stood around gossiping until summoned to dinner.
Among the Romans there was usually a place of honor at the dining table. The highest in rank sat at the head, the next in rank at the upper end, and the third highest in social position sat at the lower end. All guests washed their hands at the table before eating, a ceremonial washing that began with the highest in rank and ended with the lowest.
After a period of Roman history when chairs or stools were used around a table, the Romans adopted the dining couch. Generally, three couches were at a table, with one side left open to receive the service. Four people could dine comfortably from one couch. They were low, without backs, and covered with rich fabrics. The host and his wife sat at the head table with the guest of honor. The rest of the guests took places at the other tables according to rank.
SETTING YOUR TABLE
- If you are serving dinner, have a table set close to the ground with big pillows to sit on.
- As mentioned above, pick a table cloth that accentuates your color scheme.
- Accessorize it with complementing colors in your napkins, paper/plastic plates, and cutlery.
- Decorate your plastic cutlery by using a gold or purple paint pen and draw Roman numerals or a Grecian block pattern on the handles of the cutlery.
- Tie a gold or purple ribbon around the cutlery.
- For the chairs, you may want to consider adding a gold or purple bow in the back of each chair to help it blend in with the colors of the table as well as the overall color scheme.
- Drape gold ivy garland along the edges of each table. Don’t have gold ivy? Use your spray paint to create it.
- A floral arrangement makes a lovely centerpiece for your table.
- You can place the floral arrangement inside a clear glass vase and display it inside a laurel crown wreath for that Roman touch.
- Create your own laurel wreath crowns using faux greenery and spraying them with gold paint. You can display these on the buffet table or individual tables as a centerpiece.
- Also, consider displaying an assortment of faux fruit on the buffet table in a lovely gold fruit bowl consisting of a bunch of red and green grapes, apples, bananas, and pears.
- Spray paint the bowl gold or purple to bring through the color scheme.
Play a musical compilation of lute or harp music in the background.
If going all out, you could hire a harpist.
If feasible, have different people take turns playing musical instruments to entertain the guests.
For free musical scores, check your local library.