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What's a Thermopolium?

A thermopolium (plural thermopolia) is a Roman-style cookshop or fast-food café serving both hot and cold food. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, it was a commercial establishment where it was possible to purchase ready-to-eat food. Thermopolia are considered the forerunners of today's fast-food restaurants. They were used mainly by those who simply could not afford a private kitchen. Accordingly, the customers, often the inhabitants of tenements, were scorned by the upper class.

Thermopolia were so common in the first century that the town of Pompeii, for example, inhabited by 15,000 people, had about ninety of them. In The Deadliest Hate, Miriam and Phoebe have breakfast in a thermopolium in Caesarea:

We’d gone hardly a block before succumbing to the aromas of fresh barley rolls and grilled meats wafting out of Otho’s Thermopolium, a modest cookshop on the northeast corner of the intersection. Phoebe went inside to claim a table while I eased in line to place our order at the street-side, marble-topped counter. Tradesmen, laborers, and produce venders, still chalky with the dust they’d gathered leading their mule-drawn carts through the countryside to the Northern Gate, jabbered to each other in their spiky dialects as we each waited our turn.

THE DEADLIEST HATE won honorable mention for fiction at the 2016 New York Book Festival. Even so, you don’t have to stand in line to get a copy. to watch the trailer and even buy it, click here.

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