Ricette antica Roma
   


[61] LUCANICAE (Lucanian Sausage)

LUCANIAN SAUSAGE ARE MADE SIMILAR TO THE ABOVE: CRUSH PEPPER, CUMIN, SAVORY, RUE, PARSLEY, CONDIMENT, LAUREL BERRIES AND BROTH; MIX WITH FINELY CHOPPED [Pork] AND POUND WELL WITH BROTH. TO THIS MIXTURE, BEING RICH, ADD WHOLE PEPPER AND NUTS. WHEN FILLING CASINGS CAREFULLY PUSH THE MEAT THROUGH. HANG SAUSAGES UP TO SMOKE.

[GR] To me this sounds like a spicy smoked pork sausage. We could probably substitute a spicy salami or similar type of sausage with little variation in the taste when used within a recipe.

 

[72] ASPARAGOS (Asparagus)

ASPARAGUS MUST BE [peeled, washed and] DRIED AND IMMERSED IN BOILING WATER BACKWARDS.

[GR] The stalks are sorted into bundles according to size, then tied. They're then stood in the boiling water with their heads above the water level, so the stalks boil, and the heads steam, and thus cook slower than the stalks, so the Asparagus is cooked properly at both ends. Or you could just cheat and use tinned Asparagus.

 

[75] ALITER CUCURBITAS MORE ALEXANDRINO (Alexandrine Style Gourd)

PRESS THE WATER OUT OF THE BOILED GOURD, PLACE IN A BAKING DISH, SPRINKLE WITH SALT, GROUND PEPPER, CUMIN, CORIANDER SEED, GREEN MINT AND A LITTLE LASER ROOT; SEASON WITH VINEGAR. NOW ADD DATE WINE AND PIGNOLIA NUTS GROUND WITH HONEY, VINEGAR AND BROTH, MEASURE OUT THE CONDENSED WINE AND OIL, POUR THIS OVER THE GOURD AND FINISH IN THIS LIQUOR AND SERVE, SPRINKLE WITH PEPPER BEFORE SERVING.

[GR] I think this would then have to be roasted when it says 'Finish'. The book calls the gourd 'Pumpkin'. Maybe this is a case of calling the vegetable by the terminology of the populace of the time of translation. Current thinking has Laser (not extinct) as a similar flavour to garlic.

 

[97] BETAS (Beets)

TO MAKE A DISH OF BEETS THAT WILL APPEAL TO YOUR TASTE SLICE THE BEETS WITH LEEKS AND CRUSH CORIANDER AND CUMIN; ADD RAISIN WINE, BOIL ALL DOWN TO PERFECTION: BIND IT, SERVE SEPARATE FROM THE BROTH, WITH OIL AND VINEGAR.

[GR] You could again cheat and use tinned cooked sliced beets with this recipe, adding cooked (steamed to keep all the flavours in), a slosh of Madeira and a drizzle of olive oil. The vinegar is already in the tinned beets.

 

[111] NE LACTUCAE LAEDANT (A Harmless Salad)

2 OUNCES OF GINGER, 1 OUNCE OF GREEN RUE, 1 OUNCE OF MEATY DATES, 12 SCRUPLES OF GROUND PEPPER, 1 OUNCE OF GOOD HONEY AND 8 OUNCES OF EITHER AETHEOPIAN OR SYRIAN CUMIN. MAKE AN INFUSION OF THIS IN VINEGAR, THE CUMIN CRUSHED, AND STRAIN.

[GR] This was intended (it seems) to defuse the harm that lettuce does to one's guts. For those who don't think that lettuce is harmful, this can also be used as a great dressing. The use of measurements is rare, but more common with 'medicinal' usage. This would be way too much for a single salad, but a proportionately smaller amount isn't that hard to do. The best lettuce to use (to my knowledge) is Cos, rather than the standard (and modern) Iceberg. Endives are also useful here, and are mentioned in the recipe [109].

 

[122] CAROTAE ET PASTINACAE (Carrots and Parsnips)

CARROTS [AND/OR] PARSNIPS ARE FRIED WITH A WINE SAUCE.

[GR] Presumably the vegetable(s) are fried first, and then served with the sauce. An important note here that carrots of the Roman time were NOT orange in colour. This colour wasn't developed until around the 15th-16th centuries. The correct colours for carrots in Roman times were white or purple.

 

[129] PATINA VERSATILIS (A nut custard which can be turned over)

THE DISH, CALLED TURN-OVER, IS THUS MADE. CRUSH VERY FINE WALNUTS AND HAZELNUTS TOAST THEM AND CRUSH WITH HONEY, MIX IN PEPPER, BROTH MILK AND EGGS AND A LITTLE OIL.

[GR] This is a molded custard dish which is turned over to serve. Very chic.

 

[155] PATINA EX SOLEIS (Sole in White Wine)

A DISH OF SOLE IS THUS MADE: BEAT THE SOLE, PREPARE AND PLACE THEM IN A SAUCE PAN, ADD OIL, BROTH AND WINE, ORIGANY AND ADD OF THE FISH JUICE; THEN BIND THE SAUCE WITH RAW EGGS TO MAKE A GOOD CREAMY SAUCE IF IT; STRAIN THIS OVER THE SOLE, HEAT ON A SLOW FIRE, SPRINKLE WITH PEPPER AND SERVE.

[GR] One of the book's editors says the egg should just be the yolk. The 'broth' here could be made stronger by adding a fish sauce (Roman - Liquamen).

 

[202] FABACIAE VIRIDES ET BAIANAE (Green Beans)

GREEN BEANS ARE COOKED IN BROTH WITH OIL, GREEN CORIANDER, CUMIN AND CHOPPED LEAKS, AND SERVED.

[GR] The green beans referred to here are not the long beans commonly referred to as 'green beans' nowdays. They seem to have been (bean?) the round, flat beans known as 'broad beans'.

 

[227] IUS VIRIDE IN AVIBUS (Green Sauce for Fowl)

PEPPER, CARAWAY, INDIAN SPIKENARD, CUMIN, BAY LEAVES, ALL KINDS OF GREEN HERBS, DATES, HONEY, VINEGAR, WINE, LITTLE BROTH, AND OIL.

[GR] This can always be advertised as fowl green sauce. Sorry, my sick sense of humour is coming through. The broth referred to here could be the chicken's stock

 

[266] ASSATURAE (Choice Roasts)

ROASTING, PLAIN, ASSATURAM SIMPLICEM GENEROUSLY SPRINKLED WITH SALT, AND SERVE IT [GLAZED] WITH HONEY.

[GR] Any meat will do and it'll taste great. Simple recipe to take to pot-luck orgies for the reenactor who can't cook.

 

[281] JUS IN COPADIIS (Sauce for Tidbits)

PEPPER, LOVAGE, PARSLEY, SHALLOTS, TOASTED ALMONDS, DATES, HONEY, VINEGAR, BROTH, REDUCED MUST AND OIL.

 

[301] TYROPATINAM (Custard)

ESTIMATE THE AMOUNT OF MILK NECESSARY FOR THIS DISH AND SWEETEN OT WITH HONEY TO TASTE; TO A SEXTARIUM [GR - PINT/600ml] OF FLUID TAKE 5 EGGS; FOR A HEMINAM [GR - HALF PINT/300ml] DISSOLVE 3 EGGS IN MILK AND BEAT WELL TO INCORPORATE THOROUGHLY, STRAIN THROUGH A COLANDER INTO AN EARTHEN DISH AND COOK ON A SLOW FIRE (in hot water bath in oven). WHEN CONGEALED SPRINKLE WITH PEPPER AND SERVE.

[GR] This is basically a recipe for baked custard, even including setting it in a tray of water in the oven.

 

[303] MEL ET CASEUM (Cheese and Honey)

PREPARE CHEESE EITHER WITH HONEY AND BROTH OR WITH SALT, OIL AND CORIANDER.

[GR] My favourite way is to use Ricotta or cottage cheese with honey and coriander, combining the two options. I doubt that the broth referred to here is either meat stock or liquamen, but rather a brine (salt water)

 

[306] BULBOS (Bulbs)

COOK THE BULBS INTO A THICK PUREE AND SEASON WITH THYME, ORIGANY, HONEY, VINEGAR, REDUCED WINE, DATE WINE, BROTH AND A LITTLE OIL.

 

[311] FINGI FARNEI (Morels)

IN SALT WATER, WITH OIL, PURE WINE, AND SERVE WITH CHOPPED CORIANDER.

 

[312] BOLETOS FUNGOS (Mushrooms)

FRESH MUSHROOMS ARE STEWED IN REDUCED WINE WITH A BUNCH OF GREEN CORIANDER, REMOVE BEFORE SERVING.

[GR] Or, another combination is also good: Mushrooms in wine or reduced wine and chopped coriander.

 

[358] ALITER HAEDINAM SIVE AGNINAM EXCALDATAM (Another Lamb Stew)

PUT PIECES OF KID OR LAMB IN THE STEW POT WITH CHOPPED ONION AND CORIANDER. CRUSH PEPPER, LOVAGE, CUMIN AND COOK WITH BROTH, OIL AND WINE. PUT IN A DISH AND TIE WITH ROUX.

[GR] Tie with Roux = Thicken with Flour (wheat, not corn).

 

[378] PORCELLUM HORTOLAMUN (Pig a la Jarginiere)

THE PIG IS BONED THROUGH THE THROAT AND FILLED WITH QUENELLES OF CHICKEN FORCEMEAT, FINELY CUT (roast) THRUSHES, FIG-PECKERS, LITTLE SAUSAGE CAKES MADE OF THE PIG'S MEAT[GR -rissoles], LUCANIAN SAUSAGE, STONED DATES, EDIBLE BULBS (glazed onions) SNAILS TAKEN OUT OF THE SHELL (poached) MALLOWS, LEEKS, BEETS, CELERY, COOKED SPROUTS, CORIANDER, WHOLE PEPPER, NUTS, 15 EGGS POURED OVER, BROTH, WHICH IS SPICED WITH PEPPER, AND DILUTED WITH 3 EGGS, THEREUPON SEW IT TIGHT, STIFFEN AND ROAST IN THE OVEN. WHEN DONE, OPEN THE BACK AND POUR OVER THE FOLLOWING SAUCE: CRUSHED PEPPER, RUE, BROTH, RAISIN WINE, HONEY AND A LITTLE OIL.

[GR] What a recipe! Definitely on my wish list. A larger than normal oven is needed. Apparently the way to do this is to par-cook the pig whole, then put everything else (pre-cooked) in, with the eggs poured over to bind the filling (sort of an omelet?). The final roasting must be done slowly and carefully.

 

[392] ALITER LEPOREM EXLIXUM (Boiled Hare)

DRESS THE HARE; [boil it]. IN A FLAT SAUCE PAN POUR OIL, BROTH, RAISIN WINE, SLICED ONION, GREEN RUE AND CHOPPED THYME AND SO SERVE IT.

[GR] A boiled hare with side sauce.

 

[396] GLIRES (Stuffed Dormouse)

IS STUFFED WITH A FORCEMEAT OF PORK AND SMALL PIECES OF DORMOUSE MEAT TRIMMINGS, ALL POUNDED WITH PEPPER, NUTS, LASER, BROTH. PUT THE DORMOUSE THUS STUFFED IN AN EARTHEN CASSEROLE, ROAST IT IN THE OVEN, OR BOIL IT IN THE STOCK POT.

[GR] From my recent readings, a good substitute for laser could be garlic (mentioned as a standard Roman dish in so many places, but not at all in this book). The Dormouse is a fat arboreal rat-sized creature. So you can't get dormice? Neither can we! There was an executive decision made by Emma Turkington and myself that most 'exotic' animals taste like chicken anyway. We substituted chicken breasts, stuffed them and roast them, and then, in the fine tradition of early cookery, put currants and chives to give them a dormouse 'look'. Very amusing. Very Roman.

 

[454] IUS IN PISCE ELIXO (Sauce for Boiled Fish)

PEPPER, LOVAGE, PARSLEY, ORIGANY, DRY ONIONS, HONEY, VINEGAR, BROTH, WINE, A LITTLE OIL, WHEN BOILING, TIE WITH ROUX AND SERVE IN A SMALL BOAT.

[GR] Tie with Roux = Thicken with Flour (wheat, not corn)

 

A list of vegetables mentioned in Apicius, in the recipes not mentioned above:

Mallow Cabbage Sprouts
Celery Cucumber Radish
Lettuce (cooked) Nettle Parsnip
Pea Turnip Shallot

A stewpot or kettle.

Notes on Apicius

If you're at all interested in Roman reenactment, a translation of Apician recipes should be on your shelves, happily sitting beside Connolly, Gibbon, Robinson and Bishop & Coulston.

The words in UPPERCASE are an English translation mainly from three Latin editions, dated 1541, 1542 and 1922, with reference to other editions. There are rarely any amounts mentioned for the recipes. Thus to cook the more complex Roman food successfully, you must reach the Zen/Karma of Roman cooking. This is basically found through experimentation, and the use of taste and smell while cooking. This is not hard for those cooks among us who find that following a recipe completely is like pulling teeth, but the more amount-bound of us may run into trouble.

I've left out all the "Gross" recipes, Sow's Vulva, Sow's belly with paps, Liver, Brains, etc. etc. You'll have to buy the book!

 

Bread and Cakes

There are no recipes for breads or cakes in these volumes, for reasons unknown.

Anyway, other sources point to the use of plainish Focaccias, flat bread and yeast breads (one from Pompeii had a pattern on the top that was basically radiating lines. This bread pulls apart nicely into hand-sized triangles).

Romans would have eaten yeast-risen cakes, or layered unleavened pastries. They didn't have baking powder.

There are many references to Honey Cakes in Roman literature, and also to their stickiness. I'm wondering if they had those wonderfully sticky middle-eastern sweets like baklava, sesame cakes etc. They had all the ingredients, and loved sweets, and commented on sticky honey cakes, so to my way of thinking, it's a distinct possibility. You'd have to be careful when picking the style of sweet, because some have ingredients that weren't available in Ancient Rome.


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