cover art for What have the Romans ever done for us? Food of Roman Britain

The Delicious Legacy

What have the Romans ever done for us? Food of Roman Britain

Season 4, Ep. 7

I recently met with the creator and presenter of The Full English Podcast, Lewis Bassett to talk about -well our favourite subject: food- and especially the long lost history of food in British Isles.

How far back could we go? Perhaps the first documented evidence were from the Roman occupation of Britain nearly 2000 years ago.

We thought we should examine the social aspect of Roman food in Britain and the influence of Rome in the lives of ancient Britons. 

What was the flavour palette of the ancient world? What were the common foods 2000 years ago? What did the Romans introduced to these islands, foods that we now take as native and local?

Lewis came to my house and we cooked an ancient Romano-British feast inspired by both Apicius and archaeological evidence and analysis of remains.

I hope you'll enjoy our little conversation, and the food of course!

Music by Pavlos Kapralos

Much love,

Thom & The Delicious Legacy

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 21. Minoan Cuisine: The Foods of Bronze Age Crete

    Hello!I have a genuinely exciting episode from the archives of The Delicious Legacy! Even though this is a re-run I have added some extra bits on the intro and outro with bonus ancient recipes! And it's massive! Labyrinth, Minotaur, Talos, and many other myths and legends, Gods and kings and pirates and poets! This is the sun-kissed, sea-guarded Crete everybody!I had the great honour to talk with food archaeologist Jerolyn Morrison who is in the island of Crete. For the almost 3 decades now, with teams of dedicated, hard working archaeologists from different fields, she explores and excavates ancient sites all over the island. Jerolyn specialises on findings from the Minoan times, so we are talking really ancient stuff here! Times full of myths and legends!More about how you can get involved you can find here:!Thom & The Delicious Legacy
  • 20. A Short History of Pistachio

    Hello!Self-Exploding nuts! Now this is fact for the ages! Sadly they haven't been used as a weapon in the ancient past so I can't claim it's known for millennia..But...Pistachios!Evidence so far points to farmers having domesticated the pistachio during the first millennium BCE “somewhere within its wild range,” which spanned southern Central Asia, including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan as well as northern Iran and northern Afghanistan. But how did they spread throughout the world? And where can we find the best tastiest ones?And a little bonus on the history of peanuts, another misunderstood legume which is treated as a nut, or legume!Enjoy!The Delicious Legacy
  • 19. A History of Saffron - The most expensive spice in the world

    A huge volcanic explosion...An city buried under tonnes of pumice and ash...No, we are not talking about Pompeii or Herculaneum, but another place and volcano, at least one thousand five hundred years before...An island civilization destroyed by a cataclysmic eruption around 1600 BCE, roughly 3600 years ago! Akrotiri, a town on the Greek island of Thera, (what we call now Santorini) was buried and forgotten till the 20th century.This unfortunate event for the Minoans, was great luck for us, as archaeologists unearthed an almost intact city. Amongst the many discoveries were many frescoes.And on some of them were depicted women picking saffron from crocus flowers! Which for the purposes of our episode today, is perhaps the oldest depiction of saffron picking ever!You see the spice of our discussion today, saffron from the flower crocus sativus it always had a magnetic attraction to humans!With it's vibrant golden colour, saffron was considered important as a medicine, dye and food. And it still is the most expensive spice in world! Worth almost $10,000 per kilo, it still holds it's importance in our cuisine!So to enlighten us and explore it's history I invited the food historian and author Sam Bilton who's book "Fool's Gold - A History of British Saffron" explores the fascinating story behind saffron in the British Isles! Let's find out more about the most valuable spice in the world, Saffron!Sam has recently released another book for The British Library series "The Philosophy of..." about Chocolate.You can find out more about her and her books and podcast here:!Thom & The Delicious Legacy
  • 18. Nutmeg, Cloves, Vanilla; A quest for the most expensive spices in the world!

    Hello!According to some definitions, "Globalisation is a term used to describe how trade and technology have made the world into a more connected and interdependent place." But this is not a new phenomenon. For many centuries, this process was happening driven partly or mostly because of the lust for spices. Rare, highly prized and expensive.Today we will explore the history of three of these spices which are so important to the story of our globalised world.But most importantly this story is also a story of the Spice Islands; Deep in Indonesia, there where the amazing local sailors and merchants of Banda Islands. The Bandanese became the undisputed leaders of the inter island trade of spices, travelling in fleets of kora-kora canoes, propelled by rowers on platforms of bamboo lashed five feet away on either side of the canoe proper...Our spices:-"Karyophyllon" in Ancient Greek was our Cloves.The Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) was the first to describe cloves in the West in his Natural History (70 CE) where he recorded that “there is also in India a grain resembling that of pepper but larger and more fragile, called caryophyllom, which is reported to grow on the Indian lotus tree; it is imported here for the sake of its scent”-Nutmeg and mace are frequently mentioned in the oldest scriptures of Hinduism in India, the Vedas, composed between 1500 and 1000 BCE.-Madagascar is synonymous with vanilla. But what we know and think and eat as vanilla, is not native to Madagascar; it originated some 10,000 miles away...Let's find out!Music by Pavlos KapralosLove,The Delicious Legacy
  • 17. Foodways of The Hittites

    Hello!!!This week we are going back roughly 4000 years ago, in Anatolia, in what is today Turkey. A plateau, created by the forces of the tectonic plates pushing each other, bordering Syria, Iran, Iraq, Armenia or encompassing some of the current countries, the Hittites were an ancient civilization a powerhouse controlling much of the fertile land and trade.Avid collectors of foreign literature, they saved for our eyes, thousands of clay tablets with myths, legends, incantations and spells of cultures surrounding them, as well as their own history. Peace treaties with Egyptians and trade with the semi-mythical kingdom of the Achaeans or otherwise as we know them Mycenaean Greeks. and their disputre with Wilusa, or as we know it Troy.Join me to find out more about the people were myth and history collides with some fascinating insights!Thom & The Delicious Legacy
  • 16. Whiskey and Haggis- A Burns Night Dinner

    25th of January is the birthday of Scotland's National Poet: Robert Burns.What was served on the first ever commemorative dinner in honour of Burns?What are the origins of the delicious pudding Haggis, and how is related to an ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes?How are the Arabs responsible for Whiskey?And what is on offer on a traditional Burns night? What delicious fare is available for all party goers?Join me to find out more about this absolute classic Scottish party!Enjoy!The Delicious Legacy
  • 15. A (Pungent) History of Beans

    Why Pythagoras was afraid of a field of beans?Did really an angel decent from Heaven to cook up the most tasty bean soup in a Byzantine Monastery?Do the British love beans or is it just the canned beans?What's pease pudding and what Santorini Fava gotta do with it?And have you heard of this Lancashire delicacy called "parched peas"?This is the episode you've been waiting for! A universal history of beans!Yep. A global phenomenon! Beans have been eater in many forms and guises all over the world. A fantastic resource for humans, and the environment.When we say "beans" we generally mean all pulses, all legumes, not just the tinned variety from a very well known tomato sauce...This covers lentils, chickpeas, black eyed peas, broad (fava) beans, lupins, peas and other "Old World" beans.From Mesoamerica and the "New World" we got our many varieties of white, black, red, kidney, butter, runner beans and some crazy number of 3000 different varieties of beans!Beans were important in all cultures, and a staple food, a sustenance for thousands of years.From Ancient Egypt, to Greece and Rome, and Medieval Europe via the Arab world.What's the older recipe we've got? And how is cassoulet made? Links:Academy of Cassoulet: Lentils of Eglouvi in The National Index of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece under the aegis of UNESCO Theophrastus the father of botany: Giant beans from Prespes: Fava from Santorini; EnjoyThe Delicious Legacy
  • 14. Celebrating 100 Episodes of The Delicious Legacy

    Hello!In January 2024 we have reached 4 years of the podcast!Plus in early December we completed 100 episodes of the podcast and for this I wanted to share with you a special episode.What better way that to ask some of my favourite historical food people and friends of The Delicious Legacy, for their opinion on what is their beloved dish from the past, or historical cookbook, or something ancient they like to cook?Here, I've collected the favourite ones from Dr Neil Buttery, Dr Christopher Monk, Ned Palmer, Victoria Flexner and Jay Reifel, Dr Andrew Kenrick, Lewis Bassett from the Full English Podcast,Tudor expert and author Briggite Webster, friend of the podcast and baker Kristin Carrigg, and fellow podcaster and friend of the podcast Kyle Glover from History Rage podcast.On the audio, you'll also find some quick details about each guest and on which episode they were on the podcast, talking about their speciality subject.Enjoy! The Delicious Legacy
  • 13. The Legendary Gourmet Apicius

    A man, a legend, a myth. So much is a mystery about Marcus Gavius Apicius the gourmet, and Apicius De Re Coquinaria, the oldest surviving cookbook from the Classical World. Before the word Epicurean was in use, there was "Apician" 'of or pertaining to Apicius the notorious Roman gourmand.' My guest today, Andrew Kenrick is a tutor at University of East Anglia who wrote Eating the Empire: The Life and Dines of a Roman FoodieEating the Empire is a book about the life and food of the world’s first celebrity chef and author of the oldest surviving cookbook, Marcus Gavius Apicius where he attempts to uncover the real Apicius, buried amidst the scandal and myth that surrounded his life.Enjoy!The Delicious Legacy