A MORTARIVM at last!...and a question, of course....
After a long pause....
Just got back from a month's concert tour in Germany; half concertizing, a week looking at
Roman stuff (including the opportunity to grind grain and bake bread with a roman mill
and oven, which I hope to report on in a bit), and then a week in Vienna "just for fun"...of
course, the romans were there, too...you can't avoid them (unless you live in the
USA....although according to Ivor Noel Hume, once the archeologist of Colonial
Williamsburg and a British native....he was surprised (to say the least) when roman pottery
started showing up in a dig in one of the Virginia rivers. No, the romans DIDN'T discover
America; the stuff had been loaded as ballast with other muck in the Thames, then the
ship sank here. So, perhaps you can't even avoid them here, either.
Anyway, one of the (many) highpoints was a chance to visit FORVM TRAIANI's homebase
and shop near Frankfurt. I was given a wonderful welcome by Andi and turns out....there's
lots of stuff that never makes it to the web, because of small numbers. My advice: if you
want something, call or write and ask about it. You may be surprised....one of the
surprises was--they do MORTARIA. They have a number of them; I purchased one of beige
clay about a foot across together with one of the nose-handled pestles. The MORTARIVM
fairly smooth on the inside....the others they had (in red clay) were VERY knobbly; can't
really imagine doing anything other than shredding tough meat in them...but did see
originals at a number of the museums we took in that were almost as rough. So they had
My question: with the mexican lava molcajetes, there's a recommended seasoning process.
Much of this is intended to get rid of as much grit as possible before you start using it for
food prep; this clearly isn't necessary with the MORTARIVM. But, usually, the final step is to
grind up several cloves of garlic (sometimes with cumin, salt, and pepper to boot), wipe it
out, and then let it sit to make a finish on the inside of the mortar.
If anyone out there has experience using a true MORTARIVM regularly, I wonder what, if
anything, you did before beginning to use it....and what advice/experiences you have to
Thanks in advance, good to be back, and hopefully I'll have the leisure to expand on the
roman cooking experiences I had while gone.