#1 Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome
05-04-2011, 01:30 PM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
A few months ago I was wandering around in the Museo Archeologico di Chiusi, which features Roman and Etruscan art from the surrounding countryside of Tuscany and Umbria, when I stumbled upon a weird ceramic vessel. What made it strange was that it was filled with holes. Why, I wondered, would anyone sit down at a potter's wheel and throw a perfect jar, only to poke holes in it?
It turned out to be glirarium, a jar for breeding dormice (glire, in Italian) for culinary purposes. The dormouse is a European mammal whose name derives from the Latin word doremus, which means "sleepy one," since dormice hibernate for up to six months per year. The jar for breeding them has spiral ridges inside, where the rodents must perch and which prevents them from going to sleep.
Eaten as appetizers, or as desserts, dipped in honey and poppy seeds, dormice were considered a luxury, and at various times during the Roman era, prohibitions (called sumptuary laws) were placed on consuming them. According to the English historian Edward Gibbon, writing in the mid-18th century: "The art of rearing and fattening great numbers of glires was practiced in Roman villas as a profitable article of rural economy. The excessive demand of them for luxurious tables was increased by the foolish prohibitions of the censors; and it is reported that they are still esteemed in modern Rome, and are frequently sent as presents…"
I consulted one of my favorite cookbooks, Around the Roman Table, by Patrick Faas, to see just how one might set about cooking a dormouse, should you happen to catch one scurrying through the woods. Faas provides the following recipe, translated from Apicius:
"Stuff the mice with minced pork, mouse meat from all parts of the mouse ground with pepper, pine kernels, laser, and garum. Sew the mouse up and put on a tile on the stove. Or roast in a portable oven."
Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome
Craving dolphin meatballs? Can't find a reliable restaurant for boiled parrot? Have a hankering for jellyfish omelettes, sows' wombs in brine, sheep's brain pate, or stuffed mice? Look no further than Around the Roman Table, a unique hybrid cookbook and history lesson. A portrait of Roman society from the vantage point of the dining table, kitchen, and market stalls, Around the Roman Table offers both an account of Roman eating customs and 150 recipes reconstructed for the modern cook.
Faas guides readers through the culinary conquests of Roman invasions—as conquerors pillaged foodstuffs from faraway lands—to the decadence of Imperial Rome and its associated table manners, dining arrangements, spices, seasonings, and cooking techniques. With recipes for such appetizing dishes as chicken galantine with lambs' brains and fish relish, Around the Roman Table is ideal for food aficionados who wish to understand how the desire for power and conquest was manifested in Roman appetites.
"There are many misconceptions about the food of ancient Rome that Faas sets out to correct. The result is half cookbook, half history book and is entirely fascinating to both chef and antiquarian alike."—Washington Times
05-04-2011, 01:55 PM
I read an article about roman cooking a number of years ago. The writer made a number of dishes using ancient roman recipes. He was unable to eat any of them because they were so heavy with salt. I have often heard the Roman empire declined because of lead poisoning. The inability to taste salt is one of the first signs of this.
05-04-2011, 02:05 PM"Stuff the mice with minced pork, mouse meat from all parts of the mouse ground with pepper, pine kernels, laser, and garum. Sew the mouse up and put on a tile on the stove. Or roast in a portable oven."
05-20-2011, 11:06 AM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
05-20-2011, 12:46 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
- Brandon, FL
I would most certainly have starved to death back in those days. Unless of course they had a Mc Cesar's around.Onward Thru the Fog
05-20-2011, 01:01 PM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
How Fish Sauce is Made
In case you are not yet familiar with fish sauce, it is that salty, smelly brown liquid made from fish that is the single, most important flavoring ingredient in Thai cooking (also well-loved in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and the Philippines). Used like salt in western cooking and soy sauce in Chinese cooking, good-quality fish sauce imparts a distinct aroma and flavor all its own. It is indispensable in the Thai kitchen as Thai food wouldn't be quite the same without it.
Called "nam bplah" in Thai, or literally "fish water," genuine fish sauce is the water, or juice, in the flesh of fish that is extracted in the process of prolonged salting and fermentation. It is made from small fish that would otherwise have little value for consumption. This can either be freshwater or saltwater fish, though today, most fish sauce is made from the latter as pollution and dams have drastically reduced the once plentiful supply of freshwater fish in the heartlands of Southeast Asia.
For fish sauce to develop a pleasant, fragrant aroma and taste, the fish must be very fresh. As soon as fishing boats return with their catch, the fish are rinsed and drained, then mixed with sea salt – two to three parts fish to one part salt by weight. They are then filled into large earthenware jars, lined on the bottom with a layer of salt, and topped with a layer of salt. A woven bamboo mat is placed over the fish and weighted down with heavy rocks to keep the fish from floating when water inside them are extracted out by the salt and fermentation process.
The jars are covered and left in a sunny location for nine months to a year. From time to time, they are uncovered to air out and to let the fish be exposed to direct, hot sunshine, which helps "digest" the fish and turn them into fluid. The periodic "sunning" produces a fish sauce of superior quality, giving it a fragrant aroma and a clear, reddish brown color.
" Roted fish goo preserved in salt...."
05-20-2011, 04:00 PM
"The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves" ~ JFK; from his famous inauguration speech (What Democrats sounded like before today's neo-Liberals hijacked that party)
05-20-2011, 04:09 PM
Now I'm hungry!:mad:
The difference between pigs and people is that when they tell you you're cured it isn't a good thing.
#10 Edible dormouse that Romans enjoyed as delicacy is named as Britain's No 1 pest Read05-20-2011, 04:21 PMIn Roman times, they were fattened, stuffed and served as a delicacy.
But 2,000 years later, the edible dormouse has moved off the menu to become one of the greatest threats to our native woodland, a report warned yesterday.
The grey-brown mouse was accidentally introduced into the UK ecosystem 100 years ago after escaping from a zoologist's private collection.
There are now around 30,000 of the grey-brown rodent in the wild, causing widespread damage to woodland by stripping bark from trees, and destroying fruit crops such as apples and pears.
There are now around 30,000 edible dormice in the UK, causing damange to woodland by stripping bark from trees and destroying fruit including apples and pears
Cute but threatening: The 30,000 dormice in Britain, are damaging woodland by stripping bark from trees and destroying fruit including apples and pears
It has now been listed in a new report on 14 invasive foreign species, including the muntjac deer and the grey squirrel.
The animal, which is also known as the fat dormouse, has been known to chew through wiring in houses. It is related to the endangered hazel dormouse, a native British species.
The edible dormouse escaped from Lionel Walter Rothschild's private collection near Tring, Hertfordshire, in 1902. Its main population is in the Chilterns but it has spread as far as Essex.
It is common in Europe and was famously eaten as a delicacy by the ancient Romans.
Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal cooked one as part of his Christmas dinner show for Channel 4 last year.
The authors of the report, commissioned by The People's Trust for Endangered Species, say the edible dormouse has been overlooked as a threat because of its cuddly appearance.
Pests: Muntjac deer and grey squirrels join a list of 14 invasive foreign species
Professor David MacDonald, a zoologist at Oxford University, said: 'There is quite a lot of inconsistency in people's reactions to invasive species. The edible dormouse is quite widely thought of as being quite cuddly and so it doesn't seem to be worrying people, but we just don't know how much of a problem it will turn into.
'It has been increasing in numbers quite a lot recently although is still fairly confined in its range. We have seen with other invasive species, they can become a blight.'
His report, State of Britain's Mammals, lists American mink and grew squirrels as the most damaging non-native species to have become established in the UK.
Mink is thought to have escaped from fur farms around 1929 and has decimated the native water vole population.
Grey squirrels, introduced within the past two centuries, have led to a dramatic fall in the red squirrels known from the stories of Beatrix Potter.
Also on the list are red-necked wallabies, which have escaped into the wild from zoos and private collections and now exist in the Peak District, Bedfordshire and an island in Loch Lomand.
The report warns that other species have the potential to become future threats: including prairie dogs, short-clawed otters, raccoons, skunks and chipmunks.
Trevor Reynolds, invasive species advisor for the Environment Agency, said: 'Invasive species are a kind of biological pollution.
'It is likely that with climate change, the UK will see far more invasive species emerging. Stress caused to habitats by climate change will allow invasive species to take hold while increased storms could help spread invasive species around.'
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