In preparation for the Conventiculum (for which I'll be leaving on Wednesday), I am trying out this recipe. I did just get the bay berries I ordered from Penn (thanks for the tip, Apollo's Friend!), and I've long had lovage seed from Richters, so no need to substitute those. I did, however, use veal instead of pork, and dill weed instead of seed (and not even fresh at that!) I also won't have time to marinate it for the full three days.
If it goes well, I might make it for my annual Conventicular Cena Romana. It's unexpectedly simple, and can be prepared a few days in advance. Though I can't probably spend the money on veal in that case.
Thanks as usual, Kevin!
From: Kevin McDermott <pncmcdermott@...
Sent: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 11:07 pm
Subject: [Apicius] Some comments to Sally's redaction of Apicius 7.4.1, OFELAS OSTIENSES
Dear Sally and all,
Just finished my early Christian Eucharist, in which the recipe mentioned
above played the leading role (extra-liturgically, at least)....I used Sally's
redaction from COOKING APICIUS (p77-78).
First, changes or choices:
I used diced pork sirloin, cutting the gobbets to roughly inch-square pieces;
couldn't get a full pork belly--but I'd sure like to try it! I trimmed all visible fat, as
I prefer lean.
Celery seed was substituted for unavailable lovage seed in both marinade
Dill weed was substituted for unavailable dill seed.
I used two fresh (VERY fresh :>)) largish bay leaves cut from the one on the
deck--not having bay berries.
PASSVM was a greek muscat from Lemnos...and a very raisiny wine it was!
AMVLVM was cornstarch....oh, well.
The 750g of pork Sally asks for is DEFINITELY for a party...it makes a LOT of
OFELLAE; with it being the "main course," three of us barely ate half. On the
other hand, it is exactly the right amount to fill a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
The marinade looks like a small amount for the meat....but is exactly the right
amount. Your meat won't be swimming in it, but if you make sure to rub it in as
Sally says, all the meat will be covered. When the meat is turned out of the
dish after baking, it will be on the meat, leaving just a little behind in the pan.
Sally doesn't give a suggested time in the oven; but--in my oven--30 minutes
was just right to achieve her "well-done." The meat was ever so slightly
charring, the liquid parts of the marinade held the solid bits of the marinade
securely on the meat, making them look very appetizing; one could see the
little bits of pepper and other ground spices very clearly on the surface.
The dipping sauce, however, seems a VERY small amount; I increased the
volume four-fold, and it was pretty much gone at the end, even though we only
ate half the meat. So, for a "normal" meal, I think I'd be inclined to half the
amount of meat and marinade, while quadrupling the amount of dipping
sauce. As far as thickening goes, given the above quadrupled amount, 2
Tbspns of cornstarch mixed in about a quarter-cup of PASSVM made a nice,
thick sauce which clung well. I might try just one Tbspn the next time and see
what the difference is.
As I commented regarding Sally's redaction of Apicius 6.8.2, ROAST
CHICKEN IN A DILL SAUCE--for my money, she's cracked the code on
Roman cookery--it is indeed all about balance, and she knows how to
balance. The fish sauce again just.....sort of disappeared. Our priest, for whom
this was a first introduction to Roman cookery, had no idea there was fish
sauce in both marinade and sauce; I could taste it, just a bit: but then, I knew it
was there. It is a very delicate, but very unique, undertone to all these dishes.
Sally says the dish is "highly seasoned," and she's right: this isn't for those
who prize the delicate (there is extra, Lucia, and you're welcome to come by
and take some away--but I'm not sure it will be your cup of tea; still, where
else are you going to get a chance to try it?). What follows is all conjecture
without a shred of evidence other than what I adduce--but I think it's an
interesting take on this dish. Ostia, of course, was the port of Rome, and we
know from many of the mosaics decorating floors in the presumed COLLEGIA
that a high percentage of the merchants and sailors traded to, or came from,
North Africa, Syria, Egypt, and such. I'm wondering whether the thing that
makes these OFELLAE "Ostian" is, in fact, their high spicing-- to appeal to all
those folks from the south who patronized the POPINAE and TABERNAE of
the city? Whether that's true or not, when tipping the meat bits out of the oven
pan, it was VERY easy to imagine them sitting in a covered DOLIVM, waiting
to be weighed out, wrapped up, and sent on their way. And, frankly, these
meaty bits would work very well as "FOOD ON STICKS" about which we
talked so much some time ago.
The dish was presented on two pieces of TERRA SIGILLATA from our own
Julia Passamonti: one of her "plain plates" and an Augustan bowl. The bowl
sat in the center of the plate and easily held the dipping sauce; the meat was
arranged around the border of the plate, which it nicely filled. This was the first
time I had used these pieces, and I was a little afraid of how they'd clean up
afterwards with all that sticky, gooey, highly-seasoned stuff on them (Julia's
ware does not seem to have a very water-tight body, so I thought things might
really soak in). Pleasant surprise: no problem cleaning them up at all.
The rest of the meal were all dishes I had prepared before, and they were all
good, although I say it as shouldn't :>). But Sally's dish will become a fast
favorite--whenever we have folks who like their food peppery!
Thank you Sally, for all your good work.
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