We haven’t found a lot of traces from this period. Parts of a book by Archestrate who was born in the first century BC, are among the oldest findings.
Archestrate came from Gela, now in Sicily. He was a poet and a traveler, passionate about gastronomy, and traveled all over the Greek empire, writtng about what he saw. Depending the historians, his book is named «Gastronomy» or «Archestrates’ Gastrology»
We know more about two names from the Roman Empire: Apicius and Lucullus. Apicius was probably not just one person, but four different people. Because all four, named Apicius, lived in the Roman Empire between 91 BC and 192 AD, and all of them were interested in food.
Between these four people, the most famous, Marcus Gavius Apicius, was a fine gastronome. He established a cooking school and wrote a cookbook, still famous under the title: «L’Ars Magirica» or «De Re Coquibaria». As he was very rich, he could organize sumptuous meals to which famous people were invited. But one day, he realized that he was not so rich anymore, so he organized a last banquet and he poisoned himself.
Lucullus lived during the first century BC. As he was a general, he earned a lot of money. So when he came back to Rome, he had plenty in money and he too organized sumptuous meals. Luxury, or luxe, is symbolized by his name, which has been given to many recipes.
Food is much more than just survival. Hunger is a primary need, of course, but humans eat differently than animals. Not only because humans don’t eat the same food, but also because humans don’t eat in the same way. Manners change and evolve.
During Roman Antiquity, the most important part of eating was conviviality. Civilized man ate not only because he was hungry, but also to transform mealtime into a convivial sharing social activity. Plato wrote: «We don’t sit at the table to eat, but to eat together.» Banquets and symposia were very important moments in social life. To be invited or not to them was highly symbolic. The foods eaten distinguished between a civilized man and a barbarian, whether it be wild game, wild or cultivated plants, wine or milk.
Even today, we think we are authorized to eat certain foods and go to certain places because of our social class.