Roman Cooking

Roman Cooking

By

Honorable Lady Sosha Lyon’s O’Rourke

 Intro:

Roman cooking spans several centuries with a rich collection of recipes.  Manuscripts depicting the Roman table are rare due to the age, delicacy of these scrolls and the plundering of the Roman Empire.  However there have been a few manuscripts and letters that have survived and translated that bring us a better understanding of what a Roman table is like, from dinning styles and dishes, to foods and sumptuary laws.  (Grant, Vehling)

Kitchen:

Joan Liversidge writes in The Roman Cookery book,  that most of what is known in modern day about the Roman kitchen comes from ruins with the best preserved kitchens to have been from the excavation from Pompeii that were in use during the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

“…the hearth, which consists of a raised platform of masonry faced on top with tiles, some times edged with a curb, and with a coating of opus singiunum  (paint?) along the front. Arched openings in the front of the platform nearer the floor-level lead to fuel bins that were roughly constructed of rubble and tle.  Arrangements for providing water for cooking and washing-up are also sometimes found, as are the supports for the stone or wooden tables used for the preparation of food.” (Flower, pg. 29)

This description leads one to think that the more wealthy homes had better cooking accommodations i.e. raised platforms, wash areas and stone tables while the poor kitchens did without these amenities and used buckets for washing and cheap wood tables. (Flower, pp. 32, 33)

restaurant

            (http://www.the-romans.co.uk/food.htm)

Here is a Roman kitchen with the original counters and murals.  This kitchen is in the Teton Village of Italy and still in use.  The counters are marble with the original brick walls, cobble stone floors and wood storage areas.  This looks huge!  And definitely makes me envious of the cooks who worked in such a lovely kitchen.

There were several methods for cooking in a Roman house.  The stove one part of a roman kitchen called a focus, square structure usually between 1.10 cm and 1.30 cm high and 1.20 m deep.  Some stoves were smaller or larger but this seemed to be the average sized compiled from the intact stoves of Pompeii. (Faas, pp. 131)  Faas and Flowers discuss that the stove had various ways to cook, either with high flames for searing or roasting of animals.  If the animal was small enough then whole such as rabbit, kid or piglet but if the focus was large enough goat, pig, deer might be added to the list of whole animal.

Another type of cooking structure found in the rubble of Pompeii, per, seemed to be smaller in then the focus. These were made of rubble and tiles in the form of beehives, low to the ground.   There was an opening in the front for fuel with a drought for air.  These ovens could use both wood or charcoal depending on the dish(es) brought for preparation.  In the excavation of Pompeii, small rectangular ovens were discovered standing on the hearth of a kitchen in the House of Dioscuri.  One theory is that these small non standard ovens were used for pastries as a pastry mould was found near.  The pastry dishes were not described, unfortunately.

The oven, not to be confused with a stove, called a furnus or a fronax.  This was a square or dome-shaped hollow made from brick stone.  The floor of the oven was laid with granite.  The exception to this rule were those oven floors that were lined with lava.  (Faas, pp. 132.)

            Another method was to cook directly over a fire on spits called veru (Faas, pp. 131) or in coals on fire pits or “ovens”, this is talked about by Liversidge, and to slightly less extent Grant.  They both speak, some times in great detail, on how much of the Roman cooking was done on iron tripods and gridirons (referred to by Apicius as craticula) over burning charcoal on the raised hearths.

Spits were used for larger animals i.e. boar which were roasted over fire.   Some recipes are specific on how dishes are to be cooked with the comments of “Brown it’s fat on a glowing hot brazier” (cooking dish suspended over coals) while another dish is “…heated in a brass vessel over a fire of dry sticks”. (Flower, pg. 31) Even though the Romans mainly used iron tripods, some dishes were to be placed directly into the ashes or coals.

Smoke free charcoal seems to have been the preferred heating method (Faas, pp. 130) though wood was used not just for heating but also for flavoring as some dishes are referred to as being smoked.

In today’s kitchen a mortar and pestle is used more decoratively then for actual practicality.  In Roman times, according to Faas, the mortar held a spot of extreme importance.  Spices, herbs, meat and emulsifying were all accomplished in this one kitchen utensil.  The theory fis that spices were used first (as they were dry) then working through progressively wetter ingredients.  The implication being that there was only one pestle per kitchen in use.

I am not sure I completely agree with this idea.  I can see a Roman house hold having a smaller mortar used for spices and emulsifying and a larger pestle used for vegetables and meat, but I can not see that only one pestle per household could accomplish all this for one meal.  The logistics of both size and quantity of ingredients used seem to imply that more then one, not just one large or even medium sized pestle, would be needed.

I have not seen any mention of drawers being used or even available in the kitchen during this time, while shelves and hooks seem to be the most commonly mentioned methods of storing.  A well stocked kitchen could include, the ubiquitous knife or knives and “…choppers, meat forks, soup spoons, sieves, graters, spits, tongs, cheese-slicers, nutcrackers, measuring jugs, pate moulds…” (Faas, 132).  The pots and pans were just as numerous as the slicing and dicing accoutrements.  There were stewing pots, pultarius, simmering pots, caccaubs, shallow pans, padella, oval dishes, patina, and square dishes called angulis.  (Faas, pp. 133, 134)  The pans and pots could be made from either pottery or metal (Flower, pp. 32, 33) depending on the economic status of the individual house hold as seen in excavations.  A well stocked Roman kitchen could rival that of any gourmet kitchen in modern times.

Period Roman Cooking vs. Modern Roman Cooking:

For true Roman cooking I would need stove made from cement or clay and an oven lined with granite. Various pots, pans, and utensils made from wood, clay, or metal.  I would use either smokeless charcoal or wood.  If my house were truly well to do I would have kitchen slaves to do the chopping and grinding for a meal preparation as well as serving once all the food had been prepared.  If I were really well to do, I would have a cook to do all my cooking for me.

Unfortunately, modern times mean a slightly more modern approach.  My oven is gas lit, needing neither wood nor charcoal.  My spoons are made of wood (spoons and serving utensils) while my pots are made of clay.  These pots are lead free and not done in the period style unfortunately.  They are readily available but not on the same level as those in period.  Clay pots and utensils seem, from various archeological digs, to be as prevalent as the modern paper plate or plastic spoons.  My pans are made of metal, just not copper lined with tin.

I do own a mortar and pestle for grinding spices though I do not grind nearly as many spices as a Roman household would.  I do buy my some spices pre-ground.  I am sure that there were merchants who had these pre-ground spices on hand for pre mixed seasonings, though bulk spices would be better for a fresher stronger taste.  This is just my observation on spice tasting and the variety of cooking done at home. Not all of my vegetables come from my garden nor do I have a hive for honey.  That I can even grow even a few vegetables to cook with is a modern luxury instead of a necessity.  My wheat for bread is ground for me and is usually very pure wheat flour instead of having some traces of other flours, as a wheat mill was not cleaned between grinds in period.

I do not own chickens for eggs or meat on the table.  Cows are right out due to city ordinances.  I have hopes to own a few chickens at some point or even rabbits but for now I have to rely on knowing those who raise rabbits for meat then sell to me and are willing to raise chickens ducks purchased by me to split at slaughter time.

Modern times have made meat farms economically feasible while in period farms and animal husbandry were very dependent on weather conditions for growth and survivability.  This makes meat inexpensive and choice easily available instead of the poorest subsisting on a crust of bread, the less poor on vegetables and the tongue of a sheep or cow, possibly just cocks combs for protein. The wealthier could afford sheep forelegs or even tripe, perhaps even the taste of the fatty brisket meat.  The very wealthiest could afford the prime cuts along with delicacies of humming bird tongue and peacock.  The wealthier a Roman was, the better stocked with both utensils and ingredients their kitchen was.  Modern times have given even the poorest person, at least in first world countries, access to cheap meat, breads and vegetables not only from their country of origin but from around the world.

 

Dinning Styles:

Faas (pp. 70-72) lists five different styles of dining.  These styles are suggested from both frescos and surviving letters or notations in manuscripts.

The first style is that of a buffet, brought in by servants/slaves while each guest helped themselves to a dish or dishes from artfully arranged works of edible art.  Another style of dining is in which each guest is brought a plate with portions already cut and arranged.  We see this today in a restaurant.

The following letter highlights the complaint against this style thought.

 

“…Hagias said: “We invite one another out for dinner, it seems to me, not so much for the sake of eating and drinking, but in order to eat and drink together.  Such rationing is unsociable…’ (Plut. 642/Faas 71)

 

The next style of dinning would be the roast.  The roast was brought in whole and carved with the guests helping themselves.  Though my own thoughts are that this would be more of a center piece, for any of the listed “Dinning Styles” then it’s own as each person would still either help themselves or have a slave bringing them choice tidbits.

The fourth style of dining is said to be seen on frescos In which each dinner is given their own table while reclining.  Each table would look the same as the others. Each table had a slave accompanying for refilling of plate or bowl.

reclining at dinner

 

(www.the-romans.co.uk/food.htm)

The Athenian way of dining, the fifth style, is thought to be a little of all four above. Each person having their own set of delicacies, not a buffet but not quantified by one plate, while a central themed roast or spectacular dish displayed and carved for a dinner’s delight.  (Faas, pp.70)

From this research every region had their own style of eating.  Not always a happy situation but one in which the host could some times be swayed for a more appealing style.

           

Utensils:

            The utensils excavated range the gamete of common pottery to iron or bronze with some being made of more precious metals.  (copper or silver?)   This is true of all cooking utensils and most of the spoons, knives etc.  One can imagine that wooden spoons were also used but probably did not survive being preserved as did the metal and pottery items.  The handles were made of bronze, wood or bone. (Flower, pp. 32)

Apicius in one comment to a cook tells them to take a clean pan or pot which is presumed to be pottery even though the word patella (bronze pan or pot) is used.  This is assumed due to the readily available and inexpensiveness of pottery pot or pan.  At this point in history a bronze pots would be cost prohibitive to replace regularly while a pottery pan is very inexpensive.  Cleaning of the different utensils is described as sea or dessert sand for bronze while pottery would need soap.  Once the course pottery dishes were so caked with foods as to be unusable a new pan or pot could be gotten relatively quickly for very little.  Bronze pots from several excavation sites have been found with bronze patches and show hard use. (Flower, pp. 17, 27, 29, 32 ,33)

The fretale or sartago refer to a frying pan type of utensil that is identified with certainty, while all other utensils, not being labeled are not so easily identifiable per Liversidge’s commentary.  Educated guesses can be made to the names of different types of vessels with the discoveries made from the Pompeii excavations as well as the Roman legionary fortress at Newstead.  (Flower, pp. 32)

An interesting notation is that cauldrons or cook pots were passed to others.  From one excavation site of a Roman military camp one cauldron has inscriptions carved on the side.  These inscriptions are the name of the first owner “the first century of Attilius Severus” then the cauldron was passed on to the century of Aprilis. (Flower, pg. 33)  No reason is stated or guessed at the reason for the change in ownership.  In a regular household there is no mention if these pots and pans were considered part of a dowry or if the eldest son inherited.  There is an assumption that bronze pots and pans would be passed down to family members though.

There was a style of utensils and dishes thought to be in the Athenian style of eating due to their size and utilization.  Silver trays, tripods with plates, very small bowls and egg cups.  A quote from one dinner’s letter (Ath, 132) suggest that these items were for individual eating, on serving trays with their own tables, then either reclining and being served or the style of a buffed.

 

“…The cook puts down a try with five little plates on it.  One holds some garlic, the next two sea urchins.  Yet another contains a sweet cake, or tell little shellfish, and finally a piece of sturgeon…  (Faas, pp72)

 

This dinner’s commentary actually is against being served on small plates as it seemed to do no more then smear his lips not fill his belly.  Possibly even the lack of camaraderie with each their own table.

 

Food:

            The list of foods available to the Romans is extensive, with both cultivation and the vast trading routes available.  Very little was not attainable, albeit some times costly, in the Roman market places.  It is noted that citrus was not available, other then lemons and citrons, as oranges were not introduced until the tenth century by the Arabs, possibly about the same time as eggplant.  (Giacosa, pp. 12)      Citrons were prized for their skins for the extreme smell of citrus but not for their very dry fruit. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citron).

Examples of some items imported were peaches were imported from Persia, malum persicum, apricots, malum aremniacum or praecox or praecoquium, from Armenia.  Dates were imported from Ethiopia.  Home grown items included figs, grapes, watermelon, muskmelon, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pine nuts. (Giacosa, pg. 14).

Vegetables were enjoyed, with a profusion of choices available, both fresh and preserved.  (Grant, pp. 21)  Meat, though readily available, as were fish of all varieties, these were expensive items.

 

“The emperor Diocletian published his Decree on Maximum Prices in an attempt to stop the rampant inflation that was ruining the economy…have the merit of showing the comparative prices of various foodstuffs.  Twelve denarii would buy a pound of either pork, venison or best quality freshwater fish.” (Grant, pg. 20).

 

The common Romans seemed to have a very bread heavy diet with fruit and vegetables on the side with cheese and eggs for protein.  These breads included white and black bread (based on the type of flour used).  There was also leavened bread and flat breads (noted used by sailors but not common fare to any other population stratus of Roman households).  Flavored breads incorporated different seeds such as poppy, anise, fennel, celery and caraway seeds. (Giacosa, pg. 16) Those with expansive purses could indulge in the wider variety of culinary experiences.

There was a book written on vegetarianism by Plutarch, called On the Eating of Meat.  Plutarch referenced many other references that did not include meat in the recipes.  It is unknown if these books were for just the common man or for aristocrats as well. (Grant, pg 20)

Pasta, tomatoes, butter and corn were not used or available till much later.  Butter, while known, was not used extensively though cheese was very popular and common with goat and sheep milk cheeses being the main types found in the market place.  (Giacosa, pg. 13).  Some cow cheese probably found their way into the market place but would have been seen as a novelty item not a staple.

An interesting note on garum, a fish sauce used by the Romans, which is mentioned in every translation of Roman cookbook (Grant, Flower, Apicus, Giacosa, Faas); the recipes and theories about the different ways to make this liquid seasoning are varied while the use was much like ketchup is today.  Used sparingly garum does not over power merely adding a hint of some thing exotic and a slightly salty note to a dish.  The best bet, unless one wanted to spend 2-3 months in the hot summer sun turning urns with fish bones and fish guts with other spices, is to use a store bought fish sauce found in oriental markets.          

 

Food Exceptions and substitutions:

Grant gives the quote:

“Roman cooks were used to substituting ingredients, as Apicius’ illustrations show: ‘To which you should add the reduced juice of quinces, further reduced to the consistency of honey by exposure to a blazing sun.  If you do not have reduced quince juice, you should use the reduced juice of dried figs, which the Roman’s call “colour”.’ Anthimus was also familiar with the problem of availability: ‘Although cucumbers at present cannot be procured here, when they are available the seeds that are inside them may be eaten.’” (pg. 27)

In cooking Roman recipes’ substitution is not only expected but in some cases encouraged to use different ingredients, after noting down the original translations, for the most part in SCA redactions.  Cooks may need to use variations, due to either the lack of availability or because a better period substitute could be used i.e. goat cheese as opposed to cheddar cheese.

The Romans were exceptional cooks in the art of preparing dishes that disguise the original ingredients i.e. faux anchovy pie where no anchovies are present.  One comment by Platus’ Pseudolus (I, 810 ff.) was:

“I don’t season a dinner the way other cooks do, who serve you up whole pickled meadows in their patinae – men who make cows their messmates, who thrust herbs at you, then proceed to season these herbs with other herbs…when they season their dinners they don’t use condiments for seasoning, but screech-owls, which eat out the intestines of the guests alive.”  (Flower, pg. 29)

While Platus was not so into disguising what his food was about, it seems that the main cooking in Roman for the more elegant tables was bent on disguising flavors with more flavor of unusual herbs.

 

Drinks:

            Wine from the vine has a fragrance like nectar;

Wine from barley stinks like a goat.

Wine from the fine comes from Bacchus,

Son of the goddess Semele;

Wine from barley comes from bread. (Herkotz, pg 192)

Wine seems to be considered divine and any dinner great or small would have been a disaster with out this beverage on hand.  Wine was generally very strong, there for it was the responsibility of the wine steward of the epoch, the cellarius, to cut the wine in a 1:3 ratio.  The wine steward would heat or cool the wine, depending on the season.  This person would use an autheps, over a small stove of embers, which had a filter at the top to collect any sediment as it was decanted into drinking vessels.  The cellarius would also add fennel seeds or other seeds with fragrance to give the wine a distinctive flavor or character.  (Giacosa, pp. 193)

Wine was also distinguished between sweet and dry as well as by color, though wines by color were not as easily noted by today’s scholar.  Wines were not mentioned by color so much as by region even with Pliny’s dedication to the four color ideal.  (Faas, pp. 114-116)

While it was ok to dilute wine for drinking it was not ok to dilute wine to stretch or thin wine out beyond the 3 measures of water to one measure of wine.  It seems it was also a common practice to cut bad wine with good. Pliny does not agree with this nor with the diluting of wines with honey.  Pliney and Columella disagreed on what types of wine should be mixed with honey.  Columella preferred adding honey during the process while Pliny thought only dry wine should mixed with honey as ‘sweet wine does not mix well with honey’ (Plin. N.H. XXII-24-53) (Giacosa/Faas, pp. 117-120) Another theory offered on why wine was watered was that sensible citizens did not appear drunk in public or at a guests home.  (Grant, pp. 18)

Other drinks included Aperitif (Mulsum) a digestive aid to which honey was added to. Mead (aqua mulsa) was not deemed as noble as wine but still preferred to nothing.  Sweet wines (assume) is raison wine in which no honey is added.

“Collect the first fully ripened grapes.  Remove any mildewed or damaged fruits…once the grapes have dried out, remove the stalks and put htem in a wine vessel.  Pour the best possible must over them, so that the grapes are completely covered.  If they are saturated by the sixth day, put them in a pasket, and press them in a winepress to extract the passum. (Col. R.R. XII. 39/Faas, pp. 120-121)

Lora is the wine of slaves.  This is made from the leftover grape pulp, from the first pressing of wine, and water then pressed again. (Faas, pp. 121)

The next few items are not wines but can be alcoholic or not.  Syrups, also known as defrutum, caroenum and sapa, fall into this category.  The drink was considered cheap and not as good as wine.  Some thing only the poor or slaves would drink.  Beer was valued by Pliny for the yeast in it’s foam but not for the actual drink.  “Beer-Foam is used by women for cosmetic purposes (Plin. N.H. XXII-164/Faas, pp. 122.) Alica, is similar to Russian Kvass as that it is made from grain (ground spelt) and water.  The alcohol content is light.  Posca is similar to the Persian mint drink sakanjaba.  Vinegar, with spices and honey, were carried by travelers then diluted when water was found for both refreshment and disinfectant (if the water was unreliable). (Faas, pp. 122)

Research materials:

There are a consortium of books used for research and redaction in this project.  These books include the Roman Cookery, by Grant, which deals with a broader range of recipes and a translation from Latin. This book brings us recipes from Anthimus, Pliny, and Aristophanes, giving a wider look then just at an Apicus translation.  This work is not what I would consider a primary reference, for period Roman cooking, as there is no original recipe in Latin just a translation and his own redaction. Even though I would consider Roman Cookery a non primary source, the book does give some excellent cooking pointers for other translations as well as quotes from original transcripts.

A second book is by Giacosa called A Taste of Ancient Rome, who brings us the translated recipes from the noted Apicius and other Roman cooks.  This book provides not only the Latin version of the recipe but also translations of these recipes into modern English.  Giacosa, like Grant gives us a wonderful window into the kitchen and banquets thrown with these Roman cooks, who delighted in finding good foods for their guests as well as a wide variety in ways to prepare.  Many of the recipes in this book are written from the Roman authors own observations at the table, through dining trends to the writing of plebian characters working in their kitchen.

Another book used, is The Roman Cookery Book by B. Flower and E. Rosenbaum offering another translation of Apicius’ works.  This book has many recipes that were translated from two ninth century manuscripts with the original recipes in Latin.  This book I believe is closer to an actual working manuscript or cook book that would have been passed down from one Roman household to another as a “must have”.

Included in this research is another book, which is a treasure trove of dinning, recipes and other tidbits of information, Around the Roman Table by P. Faas.  The recipes are with the original Latin and an English translation.  Though Faas does include his own renditions to these recipes, they can be ignored for a more personalized redaction.  Nothing in Roman cooking is set in stone.

And not to be forgotten the book Apicius. Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome.  This book is the translated works of Apicius himself and the basis for many other translated books on Roman cooking.  This is very insightful of the Roman nobleman and the cooks in their employ.  This book is very bare bones and unless one is very familiar with a kitchen and spicing, I would not recommended this book for a beginner.

These works and those of Apicius’ do not describe, usually, in great detail how much of any one thing is actually used for each recipe.  It is theorized that this was because the reader should be able to use good judgment on the amounts necessary to make a dish palatable.  Apicius’ book just assumes that one has good servants or that one is familiar with the kitchen and is able to fully understand what his intent was from any recipe written.  While Faas, Grant and Giacosa have gone the extra step and have added to their book measurements for the translated recipes, the recipes from The Roman Cookery Book assume one already is an experienced cook and should be able to divine the measurement of ingredients necessary for an exceptional dish.

Dinner Menus:

Per Giacosa, Grant, Flower, and Faas, the Roman dinner menu consisted of several parts.  Giacosa describes the three main sections of a meal.  The first was called Gustum, which would have been similar to our appetizers.  These appetizers ranged from simple fruits and vegetables to the more ornate and popular dish of dormice.  The second course is Mensa Prima, or the mid courses, which is based on domestic meats, games in season and availability.  These center courses ranged any where from two to seven dishes and the host’s desire and his ability to impress his guests with his table’s rich variety of items.  The third and final course was called Mensa Secunda.  This final portion of the meal usually was of fruits, sweets and cheeses; however salty dishes such as sausages and mollusks were also noted as being served in this final course.

A normal family dinner was certainly less rich in the offered fare when guests were not present. “The usual family dinner certainly consisted of items similar to those we still consume, with perhaps hot soup in the winter, some cheese, eggs, fruit, and a bit of meat on the tables of those who could afford it.” (Giacosa, pg 204).  With our variety of meats, fruits, and vegetables that are available year round this increases choices for variety; however I have based this menu on four winter menus with dishes I thought would be interesting to serve.

Faas writes that there were more then just three sections to a menu, more like seven that could take a dinner from dusk till dawn in dinning experiences. (pp. 77)

Lustratio = washing

 

1) Promulsis = aperitifs (tapas): consisting of oyters, marinated octopus, vegetables, wild mushrooms, ham, bacon and the star of this portion salted fish. Vermouth, spiced wine, mead or mulsum were traditionally poured and passed around in a communal drinking bowl as an aid to digestion. (Faas, pp. 78)

Here Faas writes from Petr. 33 describing on promulsis.

 

“On the promulsis table stood a bronze Corinthian donkey with two baskets on it’s back, black olives on one side, green on the other.  Two plates stood against the donkey….Little bridges welded to these plates contained dormice in honey and poppy-seed.  There were also sausages on a sliver grill, and beneth that plums and pomegranate seeds…”

 

2) Gustatio  = starters (hors d’oeuvres) olives (green and or black) bread eggs.

 

“While we were still enjoying our gustatio a repositorium was brought with a basket upon it.  This contained a wooden hen…pulled out peacock eggs….We piereced the ggs, which were made of pastry….and found a fat little fig-pecker in peppered egg yolk.” (Petr.33/Faas, pp. 79)

 

3) Mensa Prima; cena prima = first main course (prima piatto) hearty soup with vegetables and boiled meat, a plain puls or a dish of legumes, pasta. (pp. 77, 79)

 

4) Mensa Prima; cena altera = second main course (secondo piatto) a more refined main course,…consistent of vegetables with meat, meatballs, ham.

 

“…a deep, circular dish, with twelve signs of the zodiac around the rim. Over each constellation there was food related to the sign. Over Aries there were ‘ram’ peas (cicer arietinum), over Taurus a piece of beef…As we stared rather disconsolately on this substandard fare, Trimalchio said, ‘Now let’s have dinner.’…removed the top of the bowl and revealed beneath it plump game, delicious sow’s udders and a roast hare with wings fastened to it’s back, making it look like Pegasus…” (Petr. 35/Faas, pp. 80-81).

 

Lustratio =  washing

 

5) Mensa Secunda = desserts with wine. Fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, honey and curd cheese.

 

Some times the order of dishes were reversed.

“…An attempt was made ot render them more attractive by serving increasingly exotic recipes.  The normal sequence of dishes was reversed.  The meal started with dishes that are normally offered when people are leaving.” (Sen, Ep ad Luc, XIX-114/Faas, pp. 81)

 

Humor was always in fashion, especially for the dessert course.

 

“A tray with some cakes had been brought in…a pastry figure of Priapus, with all kinds of fruit and grapes in his lap…When we reached out our hands for the fruit, our jollity began all over again.  At the slightest touch, all the fruit and cakes began to squirt saffron….” (Petr. 60/Faas, pp. 82)

 

Priapus is written here as the god of garden plants, fruit trees and fertility, some times with the god of wine.  He is shown or symbolized with an overly large penis, when not in statue form. (Faas, pp. 82-83)

 

6) Comissatio = carousal with snacks. This seemed to be an after dinner aspect or even a party on it’s own merit.  Lots of drinks and finger foods.

7) Vesperna = supper during the middle of the night (no foods listed though one might suspect that what had been served earlier may have made a second reappearance or perhaps a slightly less grand set of main courses were set out for those who were still up and drinking during the wee hours of the morning).

 

Lustratio = washing

Besides being great devotees to food and parties, the Romans seemed to enjoy washing hands and face between courses.

 

References

http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Brittany

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/figcom12.html

www.the-romans.co.uk/food.htm

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citron

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida

http://www.treesofjoy.com/fig-varieties-collection

Apicius, (1977). Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome; Edited and Translated by Joseph Dommers Veling. Dover publication.

Apicus.  (1958). The Roman Cookery Book. Translated by B. Flower and E. Rosenbaum. Harrap London

Faas, P., (1994). Around the Roman Table. University of Chicago Press.

Giacosa, I., (1992). A Taste of Ancient Rome; by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, Translated by Anna Herklotz. University of Chicago Press.

Grant., M. (1999). Roman Cookery, Bristish Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data.

Toussaint-Samat, M., (1992). History of Food. Barnes & Nobles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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