I hope the New Year found you all hale and hearty.
This month our recipes come from De obseruatione ciborum or On the
Observance of Foods by Anthimus. I have only recently had this work
come into my hands, via inter-library loan, and am enjoying it
immensely. It had always hovered on the edge of my experience, being
referenced numerous places, but I had always imagined it as a few
recipes hidden in the depths of another document. (Hey, what can I say,
I suffer from an American public school education and never studied
Classics.) What a treasure!
This work is not a cookbook proper, but rather more on the lines of
a manual on proper diet. Many of the ninety-four items, however,
contain directions for cooking ranging from simple suggestions for
seasonings to more explicit and detailed (at least for period sources)
Grant dates the work between 511 and 526 CE, although others date
it earlier or later. It seems to have been written in Northern Gaul and
while based on Roman and Greek sources, there are a number of references
to items specifically of Gaul and Anthimus notes some specific lacks at
the Gaulish table.
The translations presented here come from the book by Mark Grant
published by Prospect Books in 1996. Besides the original Latin and the
English Translation. Grant provides an overview of the times, the region
and supporting source material.
Fruit Salad anyone? Note the extensive commentary on the effect of
melons on the system.
If melons are will ripened, their flesh is particularly recommended
mixed with their own seeds, and this is better than if they are eaten on
their own. If, as people do, they are eaten like this with diluted
vinegar and a sprinkling of pennyroyal, they are good for healthy
people. For those who have problem of the kidneys or bladder, diluted
vinegar is not suitable, because vinegar when plain is fairly injurious
to the kidneys and bladder. And it not good for the liver.