In the Regio VII of Pompeii, there was a well-known shop, the Bakery of Popidius Priscus. There were several bakeries in Pompeii, 35 shops in total, which had to feed a population of 10 thousands of people. The latin name of a bakery was “Pistrinum” and often the bakeries also made different kinds of pastries, as well as breads.
The Bakery of Popidius Priscus faces on the vicolo Storto (Regio VII 2,22), in the centre of the city. The shop has a masonry oven, that is similar to any modern bakery and recalls, in its shape, the wood-burning oven in pizzerias. The mill and the bakery were connected because the place of grinding and processing of flour was part of the same production process.
In the courtyard, there are five millstones, which are made of igneous rock and were once turned by men or donkeys for wheat milling. The Millstones were composed by two different components: the base stone, which is conic-shaped and stationary and the runner stone that is movable and has the shape of an hourglass. The friction of the two millstones converted the grains of wheat into flour. Once ready, the flour was mixed with water, thanks to a special "kneading machine". One of these kneading machines was found in another bakery in the Regio IX (12.6) and it’s similar to our modern machines, but naturally it’s hand-operated. The dough was subsequently worked on some special desks to give shape to the product. It was generally the famous Roman round shaped bread, with relief segments.
In the large kiln placed in the center of the building, the bread was then cooked and usually sold in a small adjacent bar counter. In the building of Popidio Prisco the counter was absent; Probably the bread was produced on commission or sold to wholesalers or by street vendors, called “Libani”. The cost of a form of bread was around the 2 axes (the tipical Roman coins).
Bread in Antiquity was a basic nutrition food. Unlike what we can find in our bakeries, soft and fragrant, the antique bread was particularly hard because of low quality flour and insufficient yeast, which, if stored for too long, was found to be acidic. Even for these reasons, bread was hardly consumed fresh: rather it was preferable to put it in wine, oil or soups. The Romans also knew made other types of refined bread, such as the bread with spices, milk, eggs, honey or oil.
In addition to the round shape that the excavations of Pompeii have given back to us, there was also a form of elongated bread. Among the bakery products, also various types of "pizza": soft (in latin “artolaganum”) and crunchy (in latin “tracta”).
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