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Roman Appetizers: Main Page

The Romans had quite an array of appetizer recipes, including egg-based dishes and cooked eggs, salads, snails, salted fish, vegetable dishes, truffles, and mushrooms. Olives, sausages, shellfish and herbed cheese were also served.

Most of the Roman appetizers are made with seasonal ingredients in a simple way. Among these, the most important ingredients are vegetables, meat, and cheese. As with all things Roman, there are exceptions: For the rich, some Roman appetizer recipes were quite complicated and, today, these casseroles and fricassees would be considered complete meals, rather than appetizers.

Olives were very popular in Roman times and these were either served whole or ground into a tapenade. Light dishes like fish, meatballs, small fish and birds and dormice often appeared on the Roman appetizer table, as did heavier ones like roast pork, rabbit, or sow's udder.

The menu would include at least one fish appetizer, at least one meat appetizer, at least one salad or vegetable appetizer and at least one egg appetizer, as well as marinated or salt-picked fruits, vegetables or mushrooms, and condiments including horseradish, freshly ground pepper and mustard. Aperitifs would also be served.

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