Grains made up the bulk of most Romans' diet with wheat and barley being the most commonly used, especially to make bread and porridge. Bread was generally coarse and dark in color, the better-quality loaves being less dark and finer in texture.
Our knowledge of bread during Miriam’s time comes mainly from Pompeii. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE preserved ovens containing panis quadratus, large round loaves of sourdough breads segmented with four cuts into eight pieces with a hole in the center. The baker’s logo was stamped into the crust before baking, and a cord was baked into the “waist” of the loaf to make it easy to carry from the market.
Miriam’s household baked its bread at home, but most people did not have kitchens. Their bread was baked by professionals in commercial bakeries with ovens running around the clock. Accordingly, Miriam could always count on the smell of fresh bread in the local plaza. She tells us about it in THE DEADLIEST LIE:
By now the plaza was coming alive. Peddlers were hawking over the screech of wheels, the clatter of hooves, and the shouts of a gathering crowd. Orbits of activity had replaced the calm of a few minutes ago. The sun stroked my face and glinted off the mica-flecked cobblestones while I shouldered my way through the human river. Sedan chairs bobbed around me as I passed wobbly stands and shabby stalls where the aroma of fresh bread mixed with the scent of men at work.
Don’t worry about smelling the men at work, but count on smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread when you read THE DEADLIEST LIE. Just click here for the book trailer and the chance to buy the book.