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Re: [Apicius] Some comments to Sally's redaction of Apicius 7.4.1, OFELAS OSTIENSES

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  • jdm314@aol.com
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 24 12:15 AM
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      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!


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Kevin McDermott <pncmcdermott@...>
      To: Apicius@yahoogroups.com
      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

      and sauce.

      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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