Pompeii’s stored food cart reveals snacks eaten by ancient Romans

Pork, goat, fish and beans to go? Ancient Romans fled hot food in the same way that New Yorkers do.

Images of a recently excavated and beautifully decorated street food cart in Pompeii reveal what fast food Romans would enjoy before the ancient city was destroyed in a volcanic eruption nearly 2,000 years ago.

The amazing discovery is the first time a hot food and beverage eatery – known as a thermopolium – has been excavated in Pompeii, former Pompeii Archaeological Park chief Massimo Osanna said on Saturday.

A portion of the street sales counter was excavated last year as part of an effort to cushion the crumbling ruins of the old city. As the excavation continued, archaeologists discovered a versatile counter with wide holes containing deep barrels for hot food placed at the top, not unlike the set-up of modern salads.

The counter is with frescoes depicting an underwater nymph on a horse, two upside down wild ducks and a rooster and a dog on a leash. The inside of the painting’s frame was vandalized with vulgar graffiti.

Anthropologists say that the images of the duck and chicken were on the menu that day. Duck bone fragment was found in one of the containers, as well as remains of goats, pigs, fish and snails. According to Pompeii anthropologist Valeria Amoretti, a wine container contained traces of ground fava beans added to the ancient vino for flavor and color.

“We know what they ate that day,” Osanna said. The food scraps show ‘what is popular among the common people’, Osanna said, noting that street food is not visited by the Roman elite.

Workers also excavated a bronze spoon, nine amphorae, which were popular food containers in Roman times, a few butts, a ceramic oil container and the complete skeleton of a dog.

The dog skeleton surprised archaeologists due to the small shape of 8 – 10 centimeters; a discovery that ‘testifies to selective breeding in the Roman period to obtain this result’, Amoretti said.

As any New York street vendor worth knowing knows: location is everything. Scientists have noted that this eatery looks good, next to a small square with a fountain.

Pompeii was destroyed in 79 AD by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius

With AP wires