Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

5518Re: [Apicius] Spice Use Chart - Unless Your Roman

Expand Messages
  • anahita_al_shazhiyya
    Feb 10, 2014
      David Dendy was a spice vendor in the later 90s/early 2000s. He is no longer in that business. Below is one of his webpages:

      --- begin ---


      We are fortunate to have an actual list of what was considered needful in the way of spices and herbs in a late Roman kitchen. A fifth century cookery book, The Excerpts of Vinidarius, starts with a list of supplies the cook should have on hand:


      Crocu piper zingiber lasar folio· bacamurre costu· cariofilu· spicaindica addena· cardamomu spicanardi

      de seminibus hoc·

      dapaber· semen rude· bacarute· baca lauri· semen aneti· semen api· semen feniculi semen licustici semen eruce· semen coriandri· cuminu anesu petro silenu· careu sisama

      de siccis hoc

      lasaris radices menta nepeta· saluia· cupressu origanú zyniperum cepacentima· bacas timmi coriandrum piretru· citri pastinaca cepa ascalonia· radices junci· anet puleiu· ciperum aliu· ospera· samsucu· innula· silpiú· cardamomú·

      [This is transcribed from an illustration of the first page of the document, on p. 234 of Apicius, Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling (New York: Dover, 1977). Vehling's translation should not be used otherwise, though, as his grasp of Latin was minimal--but he can't mess up a photo.]

      If the late Latin seems just a trifle difficult, perhaps a rendering into English would help:


      saffron, pepper, ginger, laser (asafetida), folium (aromatic leaf--bay leaf or malabathrum), myrtle berries, costmary or costus, cloves, Indian spike, addena (? no one seems to know what this is), cardamom, spikenard.

      of seeds:

      poppy, rue seed, rue berries, laurel berries, dill seed, celery seed, fennel seed, lovage seed, rocket seed (Eruca sativa), coriander seed, cumin, anise seed, parsley, caraway, sesame.

      of dried:

      laser root (asafetida), mint, catnip, sage, cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), origan, juniper, cepacentima (this would translate as "hundred onion", so is evidently one of the multiplier type), black bryony berries (Tamus communis) or thyme berries, coriander, pyrethrum (Anacyclus pyrethrum) or pellitory (Parietaria officinalis), citron [leaves] (Citrus medica), parsnip, shallots, rush roots, dillweed, pennyroyal, cyperus-root (chufa, Cyperus esculentus), garlic, pulse, samsucu (marjoram ? elderberries ?), elecampane (Inula helenium), silphium, cardamom.

      [This translation makes use of Apicius, The Roman Cookery Book, translated by Barbara Flower and Elisabeth Rosenbaum (London: Harrap, 1958); John Edwards, The Roman Cookery of Apicius (Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 1984); Apicius, L'Art Culinaire: De Re Coquinaria, edited and translated (into French) by Jacques André (Paris: Librairie C. Klincksieck, 1965); U.P. Hedrick, ed., Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World (New York: Dover, 1972); and of course my trusty Latin-English Dictionary.]

      This certainly gives a pretty good start for a spice chest, although there are one or two items which might be left out today, such as the black bryony and pyrethrum. And it is very odd that one very essential item is omitted: mustard, which surely had not disappeared from use after being very important in earlier Roman times. In fact, two of the recipes in Vinidarius' Excerpts, following the ingredients list, use mustard.

      Examination of the thirty-one recipes in Vinidarius' Excerpts fills in the list of spices and seasonings, and we can get an idea of the popularity of each by looking at the number of times it is called for as an ingredient:

      liquamen [ fermented fish sauce] (31)
      pepper (29) - pepper appears twice in some recipes, both as a cooking ingredient and as powder strewn on when the dish is served
      coriander (12) - the usage seems to be about evenly split between coriander seed and coriander leaf (cilantro)
      lovage (12) - eleven mentions of lovage (presumably the leaf) and one of lovage seed
      origan (8) - marjoram or oregano
      laurel berries (7)
      laser [asafetida] (7)
      leeks (7)
      rue (6)
      dill (4)
      celery seed (3)
      pine nuts (3)
      "condimenta viride" (3) - which André translates as "fines herbes"
      2 mentions each of : folium, cumin, mint, and mustard.
      1 mention each of : "cerifolio" [chervil or sweet cicely], ginger, cardamom, saffron, "saturegia" [savory], thyme, caraway, and anise.

      Author: David Dendy © 1998-2002
      This page was last updated on 17/02/02.

      --- end ---

      I suspect this is what you were thinking of...

      Urtatim aka Anahita
    • Show all 29 messages in this topic