Fun Fact: Capons

In ancient Rome, Julius and Augustus Caesar were both keen on trying to control what people ate. Strict laws limited the quality of foods and the amounts spent on foods, both when dining out and when dining at home. Ostensibly, this was intended to keep people healthy and moral. However, some suspect that it was really designed to bolster finances, as hefty fines were collected from people who were eating too well–and the first to break the rules and pay the fines were often those in the ruling class.

A particularly fussy chap named Fannius got a law passed (known as the Fannian law) that outlawed the eating of roosters while at the same time forbidding the fattening of hens (that made them too luxurious). To get around the law, Romans began castrating young male chicks, creating the capon (from Latin caponem, “castrated cock”). It was no longer technically a rooster, so could be eaten, and it was not a hen, so it could be fattened. It turned out to be such a nice, large, juicy bird that people continued to create capons even after the law (and the Roman Empire) vanished.

So people have always been looking for a way to get around the rules–and eat better!!

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Filed under culinary history, Food, Fun Fact, History

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