IMPERIAL STREET FOOD
Food on the go was an integral part of daily life in Ancient Rome. Children and adults used to grab quick meals at the thermopolia, small cook-shops where it was possible to purchase ready-to-eat food, forerunners of today’s fast food restaurants. The city was also filled with lixae, street vendors offering bread, pancakes and other delicacies.
In the ancient Greco-Roman world, these places were mainly used by the poor or those who simply could not afford a private kitchen, sometimes leading them to be scorned by the upper class. A typical thermopolium would consist of a small room with a distinctive masonry counter in the front. Embedded in this counter were earthenware jars (called dolia) used to store dried food like nuts (hot food would have required the dolia to be cleaned out after use, and because they are embedded in the counter, it is believed that they were not used to store hot food, but rather dried food where cleaning wouldn’t be necessary). Fancier thermopolia would also be decorated with frescoes. Well-preserved ruins of thermopolia can be seen in Pompeii and Herculaneum.