3377Re: [Apicius] Cheese in the Roman Empire
- Oct 1, 2006I had a quick look at the Talmudic sources. (The Mishnah was finally redacted in the third century and the Talmudim also contain earlier material) they mention a man who milked animals holev(I get the impression mostly goats rather than sheep but this is only an impression) a man who soured the milk mehabetz and a man who made the cheese megavan. It is not clear if there were really separate people for each activity, or if the rabbis are simply classifying the different stages needed to make cheese. There was a tool used in cheesemaking called a megirah, which one of the dictionaries translates as 'saw.' I am not sure about this. They do talk of cheese which is salty and cheese which is bland-tasting, and the liquid left over after making cheese, which was called qayam. Cheese made by pagans is forbidden because the rennet used may have come from the stomach of an animal which died by itself or an animal which was used in pagan cult. they seem to have actually put the milk in the stomach. They also used used fig sap to curdle milk. Cheese was sometimes kept in cloths. It was not permitted to buy cheese from shepherds in villages (presumably in case they were stealing it from their masters, but it was allowed to buy it in the desert - where they were presumably allowed to use a proportion of the milk. Some cheese (Beit Hinike , which has been interpreted as Bithynian ) was made by experts. (when?)
But why a cheesemonger? The valley in Jerusalem that is sometimes called Valley of the cheesemongers is Tyropoion in Greek, which actually means cheesemakers...
Certainly Volker is right to say that post-Bar Kokhba Judaea would have been very poor. Also, there wouldn't be many Jews around there as most of them had been killed off or expelled by the Romans, and the majority of those who were left moved to Galilee.
----- Original Message -----
From: Shlomo the Cheesemonger
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 7:54 PM
Subject: [Apicius] Cheese in the Roman Empire
I am doing a second impression as a cheese seller. Our setting is mid
2nd Century, Judea. I want to get an idea what type of cheese this
sort of character would be peddling.
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