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4446Re: [Apicius] logical substitutions??

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  • Lilinah
    Jul 1 9:23 AM
      Janet wrote:
      >I know they (my friends) would never use brains in any recipe but I got that
      >figured out. But what about some of the Herbs? What do you use or do you just
      >omit it?

      There are only three i can remember having "problems" with. The first
      two are not generally available. I do not have access to a garden, so
      i can't plant them.

      1. Rue:
      I have no good substitute for rue, which is quite bitter. Perhaps
      someone else on the list can make a suggestion.

      2. Lovage:
      We have debated here whether what is being asked for is seeds or
      herb. Lovage is not difficult to grow if one has a garden, and i
      tasted some of the leaf in a friend's garden. To me it tasted much
      like celery leaves with a menthol aftertaste. So when i used them i
      bought a type of celery that doesn't have moist stalks, but rather
      tiny thin stalks (it was Asian - Chinese i think). Bear in mind that
      modern moist crunchy celery didn't exist

      3. Malabathron/Malabathrum:
      This is a leaf from a Indian tree more often called today "tejpat". I
      went to the local South Asian markets and found a bag of leaves
      labeled "tejpat", but i could see that they were bay leaves. I asked
      the proprietor and he said that is what they use as a substitute, at
      least here in California. So i have used bay leaves, but would love
      to taste actual tejpat.

      >I am a little confused about
      >"Pumpkin" i know its not what I would refer to big fat and orange. I
      >know some are
      >cucumbers but what else can I experiment with. What have you used?

      Pumpkin and all squashes are New World and unknown before the very
      end of the 15th c. or the 1st quarter of the 16th - various New World
      foods were found at different times, and while most were sent back to
      Spain, many were not readily adopted by Europeans.

      What was eaten in the Old World is young gourds. And young gourds are
      still eaten today in many parts of the Old World, especially Asia.

      While i don't know for certain what the Romans were using, i have
      found in local markets here in Northern California (where we have
      many people of South and East Asian descent) something that looks
      like what is illustrated in the Medieval "Tacuinum Sanitatis", a book
      that exists in several manuscripts, and based on an earlier Arabic
      text. All versions have textual descriptions based on humoral theory
      of various edibles and pictures. The type of gourd pictured is pale
      green, apparently smooth skinned, and of varying shapes.

      In my local markets i've found something called "opo", species
      Lagenaria siceraria, which is at least in the same family as other
      edible gourds. It is called cucuzza in Italian, and also calabash,
      white pumpkin, and bottle gourd. I gather that "opo" is the
      Philippine/Tagalog name. They are also eaten young in parts of Africa.

      I used them in a feast i did based on surviving 15th C. Ottoman
      recipes. They were quite pleasant. They had smooth, hairless, pale
      green skins, and were around 10 to 12 inches long. It was not heavy,
      watery, or a little bitter as zucchini can be (i think that's called
      vegetable marrow in the UK...). They insides was lighter in color,
      looked slightly "spongy" and had a hint of cucumber flavor. Some of
      the diners, who dislike zucchini (including me :-), said they enjoyed
      the opo.

      Here's a photo:

      I have also used young luffa gourds, which are tender and pleasant,
      and not as moist as the various summer squashes.

      Photos of both opo and luffa, as well as other UNsuitable gourds, are at

      Here's a personal page by a gardener/farmer, complete with photos,
      discussing opo (including sliced opo) and luffa that i found amusing
      to read:

      Outside of California, look in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East
      Asian markets, since these various young gourds are commonly eaten in
      those regions, or African markets, if you have them.

      Anyway, i'm going to use these more often in ordinary cooking, since
      i like them much better than zucchini.

      Good luck with your booklet!

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