Fresco with bread (Ancient Rome, Pompei, 79 AD)

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It is very difficult to know the painters of the Roman period as the commissions for home decorations were given to art workshops, not to particular artists.
The extraordinary knowledge of Roman painting is due mainly to the unique state of conservation of the Vesuvian cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae, where were found enormous quantities of paintings, especially wall frescoes.
The Pompeii paintings can be dated back between the II c. B.C. and the date of the eruption, 79 AD.

Description of the artwork
In this fresco From Pompeii is represented bread and a dish containing what most presumably is a soup. Bread figuration in painting began precisely at the times of the Romans, with images ascribable to the still life Vitruvius calls "Xenia", that is gifts for the guests.
By the Romans in fact, that  was a matter of great importance. With clear decorative function, they showed a welcoming attitude. It is a genre of painting (near modern still life) representing chickens, eggs, vegetables, fruits and other products of the country that were usually given to the guest. The artwork, directly painted on the walls of the house, was realistic and reproduced pottery and composition of fruit or other foods.
As for the painting technique used is the fresco, the colors were applied on a layer of wet plaster, on which, while drying, they fixed permanently. As you can see in this painting, were used strong, bright colors with  mineral, vegetal and  animal origin: yellows, reds, greens, blues, blacks, which gave a picture vivacity and color, away from what we are used to thinking for the Roman world, linked to the  marble whiteness.
Common ingredients:
  • oil
  • olives
  • spelt , wheat and other cereals
  • pulses
  • eggs
  • meats
  • fish
  • cabbage, beets, carrots, asparagi
  • figs
  • wine
Pompei bread  and soup with spelt, barley, and beans. 

Artistic choice The painting chosen proposes elements clearly linked to food or bread, and a soup . The dish proposed is photographically inspired to the painting recreating shapes and colors as in a snapshot.
Historic gastronomic choice
Bread and spelt were the most used cereals in the diet of ancient Romans. Broad beans represented the most commonly used legumes thanks to their easy storage by drying. During the feasts dedicated to the goddess Flora, protector of springing Nature, people could find themselves inundated with a real waterfall of beans. But they were food for the populace not to the nobles and priests. Apicius’ recipes made ​​with beans were held in high esteem and even pods were eaten.

Ingredients and procedure  
Serves  4  

Spelt flour 100 g, wheat flour 300 g, yeast 10 g, spelt 150 g, barley 100 g, celery 70 g, carrots 100 g, onion 100 g, ripe tomatoes 200 g, fresh beans 400 g, vegetable broth, salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil.
 With the flour and the yeast dissolved in about 2 dL of warm water, prepare a soft and elastic dough. Let rise for 40 minutes, form the bread and let rise for another 30 minutes. Place in the oven at 185 ° C for 20 minutes. Brown in oil the aromatic elements, add the spelt and the barley previously washed, the diced tomatoes and broth as required, leave to simmer. When cooked, add the fresh broad beans . Cook for other 10 minutes. Finally assemble the dish with bread and soup.

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