The Colosseum in Rome
The Origins Of Fast Food In The Ancient Roman Empire
If you're picturing the birth of fast food, 20th-century America might come to mind. Surprisingly, ancient Rome played a crucial role in pioneering quick, hot meals for the masses.
The ancient Roman equivalent of fast food joints were called thermopolia. Though rudimentary compared to today's chains, they served a variety of warm dishes in terracotta pots.
While wealthy Romans typically had kitchens and enslaved staff to prepare lavish meals at home, middle- and lower-class citizens relied on thermopolia for their daily sustenance..
They served a variety of warm dishes, such as spiced wine, cooked legumes, eggs, cheese, bread, and various meats, including Isicia omentata, the precursor to the modern hamburger.
Often associated with unsavory characters, thermopolia were stigmatized. Emperor Claudius even attempted to shut them down, but these bustling social hubs flourished nevertheless.