I’m sure it comes as no surprise that when I was a kid I was completely obsessed with ancient Rome, given that I’ve gone on to work in anthropology. So this week’s interview was an absolute dream come true for me, as I was finally able to explore these worlds with someone who knows ancient Rome so well! I’m speaking with Farrell Monaco, who is an archaeologist, baker, and food intaker. Farrell's work centres on foodways, food preparation, and food related ceramics in the Roman Mediterranean.
Farrell takes archaeology a step further, and is well known for her experimental archaeology projects, where she painstakingly recreates Roman recipes using instruction and ingredients sourced from the archaeological record. When possible, she uses original Roman food preparation and cooking technologies as well. Farrell focuses on the sensory aspects of Roman food preparation itself to better understand the labour, sights, smells, textures, and flavour profiles.
Her recreations are published on her wildly successful food blog, Tavola Mediterranea and have been featured online by institutions such as The British Museum, the Penn Museum, covered by the BBC, Atlas Obscura, Radio New Zealand, and Heritage Radio Network. She frequently hosts edible archaeology workshops and lectures, most recently hosting workshops at Taste of Rome in Rome, and Terroir Tuscany food symposium. Recently, she has worked as a team member on Roman Food archaeology projects with CEIPAC at Monte Testaccio, The Pompeii Food and Drink Project, and the Porta Samo Necropolis Project. Each project has provided critical data and insights into Classical Roman daily life, economy, politics, foodways and cultural identity.
I’ve been following her journey for a while through Tavola Mediterranea and it is such a pleasure to be able to unpack and discuss the ways in which food — and particularly bread — played such an integral role in the economy, culture, and lives of people living in ancient Pompeii, and explore the ways these histories have unfolded and influenced our current cultures.
Listen in the player above, or find on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and iHeartRadio!
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