Wall Fragment with a Scene of Meal Preparation
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Roman, Italy, A.D. 50 - 75
Plaster and pigment
27 3/8 x 50 x 1 3/8 in.

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The Roman banquet set the standard for extravagant dining. Course after course of rich and elaborate food was served as a statement of the host's wealth and social status. This fresco fragment depicts activity in a Roman kitchen. Two men gut a small animal that looks like a fawn. In most wealthy households, the kitchen help, even those with special skills like the cook, would have been slaves. Roman gourmands favored both wild game and the tender meat of very young animals, such as veal and suckling-pigs, so the choice of fawn might satisfy both tastes. Roman cuisine was also marked by the use of complex sauces. The vast extent of the Empire made many exotic ingredients available, and the use of expensive imported spices showed wealth. At the left side of this fresco, a metal tray resting on a pedestal holds a selection of ingredients, including piles of spices and a bulb of garlic.