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ORIGINS

FRUIT

Instead of dessert the Romans preferred to eat fruit but, because of its high perishability, this was consumed only by the wealthier classes. The most appreciated product by the Romans was grape, eaten fresh with elder preserve or dried. Other fruits eaten then were plums, apples, cherries, watermelons, melons, pears, peaches, but some varieties, imported after the Eastern conquests, were very expensive. These include pomegranate, for example, imported from Carthage, berries from Persia, apricots from Greece, cherries from Asia Minor, watermelon and cantaloupe from the coast of North Africa. These fruits were added to wild species such as walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds and chestnuts. The latest were considered an important food especially during the famine periods. A special place was held by figs: the Romans were greedy of them (the plant was also considered sacred), and their affordability allowed a large consume by all layers of the population. The chronicles of the past reveals that in the autumn when the fruit ripened, it was a habit to reduce the food rations of slaves because they would consume high-calorie figs: served with bread which were a complete meal. Another way to consume them was to dry them under the sun seasoned with honey and pine nuts. With regards to the figs, the first reference points relative to their cultivation in the Region of Calabria are found in the work "Descrittione di tutta Italia" (Venice 1550) by Leandro Alberti, historian from Bologna who lived from 1479 to 1552. In this work the author dwells on the description of the places visited by giving, even if briefly, landscape descriptions and directions on the most developed agricultural crop. At this regard, the author writes: "[in Calabria] we also collect abundance of oil, and other fruits, as Citroni, Oranges, Lemons, Apples, Figs, and other similar fruits".
Among the most popular fruits we can mention dates, almonds (used in the kitchen as an ingredient for the game filling), nuts (for seasoning vegetables such as chards), nuts and raisins.