Unearthed Pompeii food cart  reveals snacks ancient Romans ate

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Pork, goat, fish and beans to go? Ancient Romans grabbed hot food on the run the same way as New Yorkers do.

Images of a recently unearthed and beautifully decorated street food cart in Pompeii reveal what fast food Romans would have enjoyed before the ancient city was destroyed in a volcano eruption nearly 2,000 years ago.

The stunning discovery marks the first time a hot food and drink eatery – known as a thermopolium – have been excavated at Pompeii, Pompeii Archaeological Park’s longtime chief, Massimo Osanna said Saturday.

A portion of the street vender counter was dug up last year as part of the effort to shore up the ancient city’s crumbling ruins. As the digging continued, archaeologists discovered a multi-sided counter with wide holes containing deep vessels for hot food inserted in its top, not unlike the setup of modern day salad bars.

The counter is frescoed with images of an undersea nymph astride a horse, two upside-down mallards and a rooster, and a dog on a leash. The inside of the painting’s frame was vandalized with vulgar graffiti.

The images of the duck and chicken represent what was on the menu that day, anthropologists say. Duck bone fragment was found in one of the containers along with remnants of goats, pigs, fish and snails. A wine container held traces of ground fava beans, which were added to ancient vino for flavor and coloring, according to Pompeii anthropologist Valeria Amoretti.

“We know what they were eating that day,” said Osanna. The food remains show “what’s popular with the common folk,” Osanna said, noting that street food was not frequented by the Roman elite.

Workers also unearthed a bronze ladle, nine amphorae, which were popular food containers in Roman times, a couple of flasks, a ceramic oil container and the complete skeleton of a dog.

The canine skeleton surprised archeologists because of its small stature of 8 – 10 inches; a discovery that “attests to selective breeding in the Roman epoch to obtain this result,” Amoretti said.

As any New York street vendor worth their salt knows: location is everything. Scientists noted that this eatery seemed to have a good one, next to a small square with a fountain.

Pompeii was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

With AP wires

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