The street food site, buried under volcanic deposits in Pompeii for nearly 2,000 years, is reopening. Starting this week, Pompeii will reopen the newly discovered "thermopolyum", an older version of the Italian "tavole calde", to sell "hot food" to history-hungry tourists.
The inhabitants of ancient Pompeii were very hardworking, and ready-to-eat hot meals were very popular among the working class who could not afford their own kitchens. An ancient version of the Italian tavole calde was called "thermopoly", and more than 80 of them have been discovered in the ruins of Pompeii. The Archaeological Park of Pompeii has called the thermopoly, which will open this week, "a kind of ancient" fast food "counter."
An L-shaped thermopolyum was discovered in March 2019 at the Regio V site at the corner of the Balcony Alley and the Silver Wedding Alley. Well-preserved colorful murals have been found depicting two hanging ducks, a rooster and a dog on a leash. Moreover, there was graffiti over the image of the dog, which is a "homophobic insult."
Excavations in 2020 uncovered other elaborately decorated elements of this ancient dining room. Archaeologists have discovered vases with the remains of dishes that the inhabitants of Pompeii used on the street. The remains of two men and a dog were also found at this particular location.
It is believed that one of them, about 50 years old, who was found on a bed at the back of the room, "could have been crushed to death by the collapse of the attic roof." The remains of the second man were found in a vase, and it is assumed that after the explosion of the volcano, he ran here in search of food, and that perhaps his remains were placed in a vase by excavators of the 17th century AD.
The nearly intact thermopolyum, found in March 2020, was an ancient grocery store "that sold gourmet street food, with dishes of all kinds, including a kind of mixed paella that included mammals, birds, fish and snails."
The soon-to-be-reopened Pompeian shop will be selling this blended meat dish to tourists, most of whom will turn up their noses at the average Pompeian street food preference.
By today's standards, the ancient inhabitants of Pompeii and by extension most of Roman Italy ate very ordinary dishes. For example, carbohydrate and high-calorie bread breakfasts, which sometimes included something like wheat pancakes baked with dates and honey. Then, around noon, they ate a light meal of fish and cold meat with bread and vegetables, and more often than not, this lunch consisted of the leftovers from the previous supper.
Cold cuts also played a central role in the diet of ancient Pompeii. Eating a plate of calories and carbohydrates and returning to farm work or boarding a fishing boat was a reality in ancient Pompeii.
While today sitting all day and drinking wine until dinner time and then starting over the next day is considered the usual way of life for Italians on weekends and holidays. For this reason, it is not uncommon for tourists in Italy to walk several miles a day, but at the same time return from vacation 1, 4 kg heavier.