Roman Cookbooks

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I am a big fan of good Roman cookbooks (or any good period cookbook) however Mark Grant is abusing that level of interest in a big way with his books.

Don’t get me wrong, Mark Grant’s cookbook Roman Cookery should be in any person’s repertoire for good Roman cooking but not both books.

Book #1

Mark Grant 1st book This is a good book.  Do NOT use his redactions.  He uses American cheese(s) instead of feta and sort of vaguely suggests other period food sources.  Buy the book for the recipes and the research NOT for his redactions.


Book#2Mark Grabt 2nd book

Looks different.  Possibly MORE new recipes…must buy.  Right?  Wrong!!  This book is recycled information as the first book.  There is nothing new.  I was very sad to find this out the hard way after buying book #2 and really salivating over the prospect of new recipes from cooks other than Apicus.  I was severely disappointed.


Buy one or the other but not both.

September 24, 2015 | No comments

I have to admit I like this book, Meals and Recipes from Ancient Greece.

Product Details

The reason I like it, other then a very good write up on meals, menu’s and historic features is that the recipes are based on other gourmets rather then just another Apicius reproduction.  Of course the measurements are sparse but the recipes are from many sources.  The fish section alone is amazing!  More fish recipes then I have seen in any other Roman/Greek cookbook yet.  Very very interesting to read. Can not wait to try 2 or 3 of these.

The bread section is a fascinating read.  The author does give his own version of each recipe; however every one should feel free to add or subtract as they feel they are comfortable with. I have at least a couple of the bread recipes marked for my experimental to do list.

I could wish for about another 80 pages or so in both information and recipes but for the pricing it’s pretty good.  A great addition to any Roman cooking library.  Overall I give this book an A-. 

Apicius has been translated numerous times.  It is THE roman cookbook.  The translations though have varied from very good to blech!  I have to say that the newest edition for Apicius is very good.

What I like about the book is that the original Latin is on the left page while the English translation is to the right. I also think that the research done for Roman cooking is in depth and very well written.  There are no redactions to the translated recipes, which I really like.  This gives the reader a chance to form their own opinion.  I do wonder though as S. Grainger is one of the authors if this is not the book from which she uses as her primary source to her cookbook on Roman cuisine “Cooking Apicius”.  If this is the case then both books would be a very good compliment to each other.

Cooking wise, this is NOT for beginners.  Apicius expected a person to know their way around a kitchen and not need hand holding.  Overall I think this is one of the top 3 Roman books to have.  I give this an A+ for original recipes, information and a great format for reading/researching. 

This is a Roman cookbook written by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger.  Sally Grainger is noted for having written and published Cooking Apicus.  I can not tell if she wrote the later half of Classical or if she was the one who did the modern redactions…all I can is she has some areas that are more pronouncedly hers then her partners.


This book has incredible pictures for those researching and needing dinning scenes or period serving dishes.  Dates and materials included in this pictorial information wonderland. This is an awesome part of the book!

The recipes range from writing between friends or stories about famous (infamous) dinners.  This is one of my favorite aspects as the recipes aren’t just another rendition of Apicius.  There are Apicius recipes but I truly enjoy the fact that new recipes/descriptions are given.  This is second favorite aspect.

The only thing I am not fond of in this book is the brief nature of the entire book.  I had hoped for a book dense enough to swat a charging bull elephant.  The book boasts a modest 141 pages…  Not bad, but more would have been awesome!  The original recipes are included for every recipe though the Roman name is not.  There is an attempt to include modern redactions, though as usual I suggest experimenting and not just following by rote some one else’s ideas on how to cook Roman.  Overall for both recipes and research I give the book an A-.





I had thought I had made a post on all my cookbooks, however I find that the several, many, few books I do have have not had a listing or commentary.  So here goes!

Roman Cookery by Mark Grant.

I like this book.  The recipes have an English name as well as the Roman original i.e. Carthaginian Porridge or Puls Punica.  The citing of who wrote the original such as Cato On Agriculture (who and in what writing) as well as the original Roman translation.  Grant breaks down the recipes as he views the translation.  His failing, in my opinion, is that he uses modern ingredients such as cheddar cheese instead of trying for a sheep cheese i.e. feta – which can be a bit dry, or a Manchego which is milder, and a bit moister, in flavor then Parmigiana.  Over all a B+ for both research and cooking content.

A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa (Translated by Anna Kerklotz)

I like this book very much.  The recipes have the original translation in Latin, then English translation. The sourcing of recipes seem to be mostly from Apicius instead of a variety of authors that Grant lists.  For example Pork Stew with Citron on page 95 is from Apicus 169.  The book does not give the Roman name for the dish; however  I can live with this as the attempt is made to use as much authentic period ingredients as possible given location, availability, seasonality and not extinct.  Overall an A for both cooking and research content.


Around the Roman Table by Patrick Faas.

This book is really really good.  The author has the original translation in Latin with the English translation underneath.  The recipes seem to come from Apicus as the notations for who and where are listed as (Ap. 340) as seen in most of the recipes.  Again period ingredients are used.  The author does not try to interject their opinion as a “must do it this way” more of this, then that followed by X Y and Z.  This I feel gives the reader better wiggle room to try their own thing for redacting a recipe to their taste and not just the author’s taste.  An added bonus is the amount of work that the Faas has done with giving historic information from the different eras, table manners, wine as a drink and for cooking and the cooks with their kitchen. Overall an A+ for both cooking and research content.


Apicius The Roman Cookery Book translated by Barbara Flower and Elizabeth Rosenbaum.

This is a GREAT research book.  One of the few that is probably as close to the original cookbooks in Latin as we will see (with the English translation).  Notations are made by the translators on different aspects such as ingredients however the original recipe is faithfully copied with the original Latin on the opposite side of the page.  A bit difficult in this form to follow and there are no measurements listed.  This is a pure research/redaction fun for attempting Roman cooking.  This book is NOT for the faint of heart who need measurements and direction.  For straight 100% cookbook a C for historic research book on Roman cooking an A-.

Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome Edited and Translateb by Joseph Dommers Vehling.

This is another great book for a reference.  There are no recipes in Latin listed just straight up translation of recipes.  The historical information is good but there is a bit of opinion entered into the these sections.  This really is an in your face bare bones, straight from the Roman cook(s) to you.  For straight 100% cookbook a C- for historic research book on Roman Cooking an A-. You can’t get more straightforward this this book.

Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today by Sally Grainer.

I both like and loath this book.  This book has some good takes on period ingredients for sauces.  I like the recipes chosen.  There are NO historical recipes either in the original Latin or in English.  All the recipes are listed as period but there is barely a nod towards the original.  Apicius is written as areference but finding which of the many versions of Apicius used will be an interesting task.  If this book is to be used at all for historical cooking, the original recipe would need to be looked up in an Apicius then pared with this book.  Combining the two books, with the original in your face Latin translation and a cook’s opinion on how to make a dish would work.  This is a secondary resource at best.  For a straight up Cooking book this is an A+ for historical research this is a D.