In an intriguing review of an upcoming book, Rome: an Empire's Story, by Greg Woolf, Adrian Goldsworthy (author of a number of books about Rome in my library) notes something interesting about Roman diet and daily life:
Woolf notes that chickens appeared in the Mediterranean world sometime in the middle of the last millennium BC. Quick to breed and relatively easy to maintain, they provided eggs and a source of conveniently small quantities of meat—an important attribute in a world without refrigeration.
It's this kind of observation about daily life that can really bring a past time to life. People made practical choices, based on what made the most sense given their circumstances. One chicken = one dinner. Bigger ruminants make a lot of meat, impossible to store without refrigeration. That's why the ancients largely saved them for sacrifice and mass consumption.
I also didn't know chickens had reached the Mediterranean that late.
I'm always a sucker for another book that might help me understand ancient Rome, so I think I will eventually end up with this one too.