An Exhibition Devoted to the Cuisine of Ancient Rome Opens in the Regional Museums of Slovenia

A mobile exhibition devoted to the ancient Roman cuisine Kruha in iger opened in regional museums of Maribor, Ptuj and Ormož. At the exhibition, visitors can see a Roman pantry, a black kitchen and a dining room, as well as learn a lot of interesting things about the life and culinary traditions of the ancient Romans.

Culinary customs of ancient Rome influenced the cuisine of all European peoples, including Slovenes. The gastronomic traditions of Ancient Greece and the countries of the Near East have intertwined therein in a remarkable manner.

Almost every Roman house or apartment had a kitchen. The low-rise buildings of wealthy townspeople featured large and comfortable apartments equipped with a dining room and a kitchen on the lower floors. Apartments located on the upper floors did not have kitchens, and their inhabitants cooked food on small portable fireplaces of terracotta colour, which in wintertime served for heating.

Residents of poor areas in ancient Roman cities, which had neither water nor kitchens, often cooked food in the nearest tavern and took water from public wells. In private houses, kitchen occupied quite a bit of space, in a small courtyard next to the toilet, which most often communicated with a rainwater collection tank. In rich houses with swimming pools and thermal baths, kitchen was a separate room with a chimney that led out smoke and unpleasant smells from the house.

The ancient Roman kitchens were small and dark. Fireplace (110–130 cm in height and 80 cm in width) occupied the main part of any kitchen and was usually located in the corner. People used kitchen for baking and boiling only, while dishes themselves were cooked in the inner courtyard (atrium (architecture)) or in other household premises.

The Kitchen Debate event (in Slovene: Debata o kuhinji) is the completion of the museum research on the Pohorje woodworking workshops. It is worth noting that in Pohorje, in the second half of the XVIII century, handicraft production of wood products was developed, which were then transported by land or by water (along the Drava River) to other cities.

The Kitchen Debate project will be opened in the museum until the end of next year, but its official launching took place last week with the opening of an exhibition of kitchen sets, utensils, dishes and textiles stored in the funds of the Local History Museum of Maribor. The oldest exhibits are the wall cabinet doors of the 17th century, while the youngest item is the Maksima kitchen set produced in 1970, which was still in use last year.

Last week the installation by Tanja Devetak and Eduard Čehovin entitled “Kuharica pridna, čedna je vse hvale vredna” (“Everyone Deserves Praise, Who Cooks Dainty Food”) was opened. The authors presented a collection of embroidery on kitchen napkins adorned with wise sayings.