Ancient Roman Recipes Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

The upper class of ancient Rome loved to dine and throw banquet parties for guests. These banquets were feasts with all sorts of lavish and exotic dishes.

One of the complete collections of ancient Roman recipes that we have a copy of is from a collection called Apicius : De re coquinaria . This title can be translated as “Apicius: On the Subject of Cooking.” You can find recipes from this cookbook online. The one I want to try is the Patina de piris. It seems like it’s the ancient Roman version of a pear soufflé. All the ingredients for this recipe seem pretty attainable. For instance you’ll need the pirus (nominative of “pear”), mel (honey), and other easily obtainable items.

Unfortunately not all of the Apicius recipes are easy to recreate. For example, one of the recipes lists flamingo as an ingredient. I don’t know where I’m going to get a flamingo, and I’m not sure what I can substitute for that. If you’re looking to recreate Apicius’s recipes for the modern kitchen, then I’d suggest buying a book called, Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today by Sally Grainer. I personally have this book and I really enjoyed making some of the recipes in this book. It’s great for making as close to an authentic style ancient Roman dish for an ancient Roman themed dinner party with friends.

When you look at recipes like Pullum Frontonianum (Chicken a la Fronto), you kind of get the sense that the taste buds of people long ago are not that different from people of today. This isn’t an extravagant dish, it’s just some pullus (chicken) baked with some spices. Another book that I would also recommend is called Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens by Mark Grant. This is a well researched book about the food prepared for the elite, and includes some explanation about some of the cultural values and attitudes the ancient Romans had about food.

If you’re interested in a seafood dish, try Minutal Marinum. This recipe contains many ingredients which include vinum (wine), piscis (fish), oleum (olive oil), coriandum (coriander), origanum (oregano) and piper (pepper). If you like making gourmet meals then I’d recommend a cookbook called Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa.This recipe book takes recipes from Apicius and Cato, Juvenal and even Martial. If you like learning about how to prepare the food that the wealthy ancient Romans ate, then you’ll like the detailed recipes in this book.

There’s another book called Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome by Patrick Faas. It’s a really interesting book about ancient Roman cuisines. Some of the fascinating recipes include a dolphin meatball dish and a boiled parrot dish. I’m not sure I want to try that, but the book is worth trying because the author gives an insightful history about what the privileged classes ate.

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