Frescoed ancient fast food joint opens in Pompeii

The elaborately frescoed thermopolium discovered in Pompeii’s Regio V excavation in 2019 opens to the public for the first time on Thursday. The Regio V thermopolium was one of more than 80 small eateries in Pompeii which served beverages and hot food, albeit one with particularly rich decorations and the only one to be fully excavated by archaeologists.

The snack bars were mostly used by poorer residents of ancient Pompeii who rarely had a kitchen in their homes. Typical menus included coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine.

Customers ordered prepared foods at an L-shaped counter painted with brightly colored frescoes of a nereid riding a sea horse, a food counter with amphorae leaning against it and pots on top of it (thermopolium inception), two ducks hanging upside down, a rooster and a snarling black dog on a leash. The vessels embedded in the countertop contained the remains of some of the dishes on offer at the shop, including duck and a paella-like combination of proteins (pork, goat, bird, fish and snail). Remains of wine and fava beans were found in one of the large storage amphorae.

After the initial investigation in 2019, archaeologists returned in 2020 to complete the excavation with the aim of restoring the room and decorative elements and protecting the frescoes from the elements by building a new wooden roof over the counter.

Visitors will be allowed access to the restaurant every day between noon and 7PM. Advance booking is not required to visit the thermopolium, but it is required for visits to its neighbors: the active archaeological excavations taking place at the House of Orion and the House with the Garden.

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Comment by Jack Benedict
2021-08-11 10:22:26

I’ll have a double cheesburger with everything.

 
Comment by jane
2021-08-11 11:08:20

I wonder if they had a version of the dollar menu. What an awesome glimpse into the daily life of Pompeii.

 
Comment by Apicius
2021-08-12 00:50:49

From Apicius, De re coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking), BOOK V. LEGUMES (Lib. V. Osprion), IV CHAP. IV. BEANS OR PEAS IN THE POD.

Rather unsure of what the misera plebs ate in their “Thermopol(e)ia”, but feel free to take “conchiclam cum faba” into consideration

:hattip:

———

[…]

[194] BEANS IN THE POD (CONCHICLA) [1]

COOK THE BEANS [2]; MEANWHILE CRUSH PEPPER, LOVAGE, CUMIN, GREEN CORIANDER, MOISTENED WITH BROTH AND WINE, AND ADD [more] BROTH TO TASTE, PUT INTO THE SAUCE PAN [with the beans] ADDING OIL; HEAT ON A SLOW FIRE AND SERVE.

[1] Tor. Concicla—conchis—conchicula—young, immature beans, string or wax, boiled in the shell or pod.

[2] conchiclam cum faba—young string beans and (dry, white or kidney) beans, cooked separately of course and mixed when done, ready for service.

[195] PEAS IN THE POD APICIAN STYLE CONCHICLAM APICIANAM

FOR PEAS IN THE POD [1] APICIAN STYLE TAKE: [2] A CLEAN EARTHEN POT IN WHICH TO COOK THE PEAS; TO THE PEAS ADD FINELY CUT LUCANIAN SAUSAGE, LITTLE PORK CAKES [3], PIECES OF MEAT [4] AND PORK SHOULDER [5]. CRUSH PEPPER, LOVAGE, ORIGANY, DILL, DRY ONIONS [6] GREEN CORIANDER MOISTENED WITH BROTH, WINE, AND ADD [more] BROTH TO TASTE; UNITE THIS WITH THE PEAS IN THE EARTHEN POT TO WHICH ADD OIL IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITY TO BE ABSORBED BY THE PEAS; FINISH ON A SLOW FIRE TO GIVE IT LIVE HEAT AND SERVE.

[1] Peas in the pod are likewise called conchicla; hence perhaps any legumes cooked in the shells.

[2] Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

[3] isiciola porcina.

[4] pulpas—in this case no specific meat.

[5] petaso; Dann. pieces of ham

[6] cepam siccam—ordinary dry onions, not shallots.

[196] SIMPLE DISH OF PEAS IN THE POD CONCHICLA DE PISA SIMPLICI [1]

COOK THE PEAS [in the pods] WHEN SKIMMED ADD A BUNCH [2] OF LEEKS AND GREEN CORIANDER. WHILE BEING COOKED CRUSH PEPPER, LOVAGE, ORIGANY, AND [the above] BUNCH [of herbs] [3] MOISTEN WITH ITS OWN JUICE, [134] WINE [4] ENOUGH TO SUIT YOUR TASTE, THEN ADD OIL AND FINISH ON A SLOW FIRE [5].

[1] Thus G.-V.; Tor. Concicla Pisorum.

[2] Sch. feniculum instead of fasciculum.

[3] G.-V. de suo sibi fricabis; Tor. seorsim f.

[4] G.-V. wine wanting in Tor.

[5] Brandt, referring to ℞ No. 154, suggests that the things crushed in a mortar be placed on top of the peas.

[197] PEAS IN THE POD À LA COMMODUS [1] CONCHICLA COMMODIANA

MAKE PEAS COMMODIAN STYLE THUS: [2] COOK THE PEAS, WHEN SKIMMED, CRUSH PEPPER, LOVAGE, DILL, SHALLOTS MOISTENED WITH BROTH; ADD WINE AND BROTH TO TASTE: STIR IN A SAUCE PAN [with the peas] TO COMBINE; FOR EACH SEXTARIUS OF PEAS BEAT 4 EGGS, AND COMBINE THEM WITH THE PEAS, PLACE ON THE FIRE TO THICKEN [avoiding ebullition] AND SERVE.

[1] Hum. Named for Commodus, the emperor; List. for Commodus Antonius, son of the philosopher Marcus.

[2] Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

[198] ANOTHER STYLE ALITER CONCHICLAM SIC FACIES [1]

CUT [raw] CHICKEN INTO SMALL PIECES, ADD BROTH, OIL AND WINE, AND STEW IT. CHOP ONIONS AND CORIANDER FINE AND ADD BRAINS [calf’s or pork, parboiled] THE SKIN AND NERVES REMOVED, TO THE CHICKEN. WHEN THIS IS COOKED TAKE [the chicken] OUT AND BONE IT. THE PEAS COOK SEPARATELY, WITHOUT SEASONING, ONLY USING CHOPPED ONIONS AND CORIANDER AND THE BROTH OF THE CHICKEN; STRAIN [part of] THE PEAS AND ARRANGE THEM ALTERNATELY [in a dish with the pieces of chicken, brains and the unstrained peas] THEN CRUSH PEPPER AND CUMIN, MOISTENED WITH CHICKEN BROTH. IN THE MORTAR BEAT 2 EGGS WITH BROTH TO TASTE, POUR THIS OVER THE CHICKEN AND PEAS, FINISH ON A SLOW FIRE [1], DISH OUT ON A HEAP OF PEAS, GARNISH WITH PINE NUTS AND SERVE.

[1] By congealing in a mould, which is unmoulded on a heap of peas. Danneil directs to stuff the whole chicken with the pea preparation, brains, etc., and to poach it in a square pan.

[…]

 
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