Roman soldiers were known for their discipline and strength, and their diet played a critical role in maintaining their physical abilities. The food that Roman soldiers ate was not only intended to provide energy but also to keep them healthy and alert during long campaigns.
Breakfast was the most important meal of the day for Roman soldiers. It typically consisted of a porridge made from grains, like wheat, barley or oats, mixed with milk or water. Sometimes, they would add honey, fruits or nuts for flavor and extra nutrition. For protein, they might have had hard-boiled eggs or cheese, and they also drank wine diluted with water.
Lunch was often a simple meal consisting of bread and cheese or leftovers from the previous day’s dinner. Soldiers would also carry with them a type of hardtack, called buccellatum, which was a dense, unleavened bread that could last for weeks or even months. It was a staple of their military rations.
Dinner was the most elaborate meal of the day. Soldiers were served a hearty stew made from meat or fish, vegetables and grains, such as lentils or beans. They would also eat bread and possibly fruit for dessert. Wine was always a part of the meal, but it was usually watered down to avoid drunkenness.
Roman soldiers were also known for their love of sauces and spices, which they used to flavor their food. Some popular condiments included garum, a fermented fish sauce, and liquamen, a saltier version of garum. Soldiers would also eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including onions, garlic, leeks, turnips, carrots and radishes.
Despite the challenges of supplying food to a large military force, the Roman army had a sophisticated logistical system that ensured soldiers had access to fresh, nutritious food. Livestock were raised specifically for the army, and supply chains were established to transport food to different locations. In some cases, soldiers would even be paid in salt, which was a valuable commodity and used to preserve food.
In conclusion, the diet of Roman soldiers was simple yet nutritious, designed to provide energy and sustenance for long periods of time. They ate a variety of foods, including grains, meat, vegetables, and fruit, and enjoyed a range of condiments and spices to add flavor to their meals. While their diet may seem basic by today’s standards, it was a critical component of their military strength and success.