Taking A Bite Out Of A 1,500-Year-Old Roman Burger

The Romans are well-known for many innovations during their reign. They built the Colosseum, created a calendar, crafted one of the first sewer systems, made complex roads, and developed an alphabet. But let’s focus on one of their tastier contributions to humanity: the “burger.” A unique variation of the common burger we know today, the Romans’ isicia omentata loosely translates to “minced meat and caul fat.”


  • Minced meat
  • Caul fat – A fatty membrane from the digestive organs of pigs, cows, or sheep. While it may sound a bit unsettling, caul fat is typically used to wrap up foods like sausages, and a webs of this stringy substance can be found at most local butchers or meat markets.
  • Bread soaked in white wine
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Liquamen – A fermented fish sauce used as a condiment in the cuisines of Phoenicia, Ancient Greece, Rome, and Carthage. Though a popular ingredient 1,500 years ago, it may be tricky to secure at your local grocer.
  • Caroenum – Another unpopular addition to any present-day recipe, caroenum is a Roman liquid sweetener made by simmering down grapes. As it’s not heavily mentioned or referenced in ancient texts, the exact recipe for creating caroneum is still left up to interpretation.
  • Pine nuts

The result of combining these unique and unconventional ingredients left the Romans with a rather delicious variation of the burger. Watch this episode of Believe It or Not! Bites, do as the Romans do, and let us know how your very own isicia omentata turns out in the comments below!

What’s cooking in the Ripley’s kitchen? Video producer by day, chef by night, Matt Mamula is serving up the strange on Believe It or Not! Bites. Grab a glass of circus-born pink lemonade, paired with a 1,500-year-old Roman hamburger, and you’ve got yourself a meal (and a story for the dinner table).