Destitute of the Luxury of a Baked Potato

One thing I shall try to make sure I do as I walk along Hadrian’s Wall is to imagine the real lives of the Romans living and working in that part of the world 1,900 years ago. Collingwood Bruce, in the mid to late 19th century, was also intrigued by this, and he wrote and lectured much about Hadrian’s Wall.

In one lecture, he gave an insight into the differences between the food and drink of the Romans and of the Victorian Britons…

It is curious to think of how many articles of diet essential to our existence they were destitute. They knew nothing of the luxury of a baked potato. No turkey ever graced their Christmas board. To tea and coffee they were entire strangers. Their fruit tarts in the absence (more or less complete) of sugar must have been very tart. To make amends for all this there was no need for remonstrance on the part of Roman ladies respecting the use by their lords of the Virginian weed.

Coming, many of them, from the sunny south, where light wine is an article of food, they naturally continued the use of it in our cold clime.

As I write, I am awaiting lunch on the train up to Newcastle, and enjoying some light wine (though not as an article of food…)

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