"I came, I saw, I conquered." The famous words of Caesar are indicative of the ideology of the Roman Empire. Food was certainly one reason that the Romans loved expansion of their territory.
The Roman leaders, in an attempt to alleviate poverty in the capital city, instituted a policy known as annona, which gave free grain to about a third of the population of Rome. Annona had unforeseen consequences - to provide enough food to the burgeoning plebian population in Rome, the legionaries of Rome had to conquer more land for grain. Later, in the Roman Empire, Egypt was the Roman's main source of grain.
Even through all of the brutality of their conquests, though, Ancient Rome was a leader in many areas and helped pave the way for modern society. For example, they had the first highway system to transport goods quickly and easily and helped make the ancient Romans a very important part of the European trade system. Rome's location on the coast also provided many seafaring trade routes. Because of this trade and its advanced technology, ancient Rome became powerful and successful throughout Europe.
Bread, olives, cheese, and grapes were the Romans's staple food. Poor Romans ate olives, bread, and grapes mainly. Meat was expensive and it was often determined by class.
Most of these crops were grown on the coast, in the fertile land near by the Mediterranean Sea. This coastal land was really the only place throughout the whole of Italy that could consistently grow healthy crops. Most of Italy and the area surrounding Rome was rocky and hilly and not very suitable for growing many crops. Although the conditions were not very conducive, the Romans were able to grow a few crops in the rocky soil.
The Romans are most famous not for their foods, but for their spices and sauces that they put on top, especially liquamen. To make liquamen, Romans collected heaps of small fish, saturated them in salt, and let them ferment in the sun for a few months, sometimes adding wine. The resulting liquid was strained, and put on almost everyhting. It was more common of a spice than salt itself. Liquamen is still used today in southeast Asia, but under a different name (tuk trey, muoc mam, or nam pla, depending on which country you are in).
The Romans, known for their aggression against other cultures, ate a suprising variety of foods, which they collected and traded ingeniously. Coming, seeing, and conquering were natural to the Romans, but the real reason behind their aggression was their food.
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