- --- In Apicius@yahoogroups.com, Lucia Clark <luciaclark@...> wrote:
>Well, as Lucia has opened the door...I'll walk through. Yes, the wonder of the
> I discovered this list, and another enthusiast of Roman food who
> lives within 15 miles from me, in the same week. I will leave up to
> him to elaborate on the Columella cheese confection he prepared, and
> the spiced wine.
internet made us aware of each other---and that we lived in adjoining small
towns in a rural district north of Boston--and had us sharing a meal within 24
Knowing that Lucia would be coming the next day, I hurried to prepare a light
prandium. I baked two loaves of bread, based on Athenaeus' description of
"boletus bread" (Segan's [surprisingly good] redaction, tinkered with by me),
but molded not as "mushrooms" but in the shape of the roman loaves known
from Pompeii, i.e., round, flattish, and divided into easily-breakable "farls."
The principal dish was Columella's moretum, using Sally Grainger's
redaction. I hadn't made this before, so followed her recipe exactly. Using two
large heads of garlic (her 20 to 25 cloves), it does indeed produce a "fiery"
spread, as she remarks. You've got to like garlic, no doubt; luckily, both my
wife and I do...and I think Lucia does, or she was the perfect guest! But when I
make it again, I think I may reduce the garlic by, say, 6 cloves, and add a bit
more vinegar. Not having a mortarium, I worked the salt, garlic, and herbs in a
Mexican lava molcajete, which worked extremely well--the only problem
being that the mixture had to be removed to a larger bowl before the cheese
was added. The cheese was molded onto a ball about the size of a baseball
and set in the center of an Augustan-period samian ware plate from Xanten,
then surrounded by two concentric circles of olives, the inside Gaeta, the
outside Sicilian. The effect was quite attractive. the meal was eaten with
reproductions of the small, pointy-ended spoons traditionally called "snail"
spoons, I think...they worked very well to slice off bits of the moretum and
spread it on the bread (with the bowl) and to spear olives (with the shaft).
The beverage was Apicius' conditum paradoxum, again following Grainger's
redaction exactly--with the exception of the roasted date pits: the only dates I
could find were all pitted. The base was a bottle of retsina, to fill in for the
mastic. I did, indeed, boil and scum the honey/wine mixture twice....but found
that by the next day some secondary fermentation appeared to be taking
place. I suspect the dates! Has anyone else found this to be true? When Lucia
arrived, she was kind enough to bring along some of her defrutum (as well as
the savillum). So we mixed the conditum paradoxum with the defrutum and
mineral water at the table in a reproduction samian ware footed bowl and very
much enjoyed the result!
Sorry for the length of the post; it seems VERY long for such a simple meal.
>No, I haven't run across that one. I'm a bit of a food geek..
> Okay Ranvig, I have to ask...are you a fan of "The Centurions"
>trilogy by Damion Hunter?
reading cookbooks just for the fun of it. And the homelier, hands on
parts of history, spinning, weaving, dyeing, lacemaking, and of