Andrew James Donnelly (Loyola University Chicago)
The proliferation of the flat-bottomed cooking pan, a distinctly Italian form, coincides with the expansion of the Roman state. It gradually disappeared from the Mediterranean as Rome’s influence waned, and by Late Antiquity is found only infrequently even in the Italian peninsula.
I examine the cultural context of use of these vessels, looking at textual references to the vessel (e.g. patina, patera) in conjunction with the verbs used to describe cooking (e.g. asso and torreo). I also examine references to where the vessels were cooked, the ingredients used and meals prepared in this type of vessel, and compare this to residue analysis conducted on such vessels.
This investigation leads to a deeper understanding of certain aspects of the vessel’s use and demonstrates the impact and significance of the vessel’s disappearance. As this ubiquitously Roman form disappeared, many of the words associated with the flat-bottomed cooking pan decreased in frequency of appearance, changed meaning, or simply vanished from the textual record. The language of cooking profoundly changed in Late Antiquity, indicative of a wide-spread cultural shift in the Italian peninsula, one dependent on near-simultaneous demographic, economic, and technological upheaval and transformation which altered even the most basic aspects of daily life.