A Vintage Recipe from the Deep Past

February 19, 2016

And now, an “every-day dish” from the famous ancient Roman gastronome Apicius. Just a little something to put on the table when you’re too tired to attempt a serious culinary effort! Its from his book, De Re Coquinaria (“On the Subject of Cooking”).

Nobody knows who Apicius really was, but it’s believed he lived around the year 100.  The texts we have were all written a few centuries later.

It’s a fascinating group of recipes that offer serious insights into what life for the wealthy Roman of the time must have been like.

See for yourself:

IMG_0054Cooked sow’s udder? Pancake? A water bath? All in a Roman slave’s day’s work.  Parse this dish carefully, and you’ll see that it’s for something quite close to lasagna.

Apicius considered that an “everyday dish.” Want to see the special occasion version?



A few notes on the ingredients:

Origany, I imagine, is oregano

Mallows are a foraged wild green.

Pullum raptum: fowl plucked while still living.

Lucanian sausages continue to be popular in Rome.  Here’s a recipe

Tarantinian sausage, cooked in the ashes: I can find no reference for this exact name, but I’m supposing that it refers to sausage from Taranto, in Puglia.  Which is interesting, as this is a sausage made from tuna belly.


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1 Comment

  • Giovanna says:

    Oh, the cow’s udder. My husband loves telling the story of when he was a penniless teenager, backpacking in Bulgaria in the 1970s. He and a friend managed to get–for free–a cow’s udder. They boiled it for hours and hours, or so he says. When he decided it was finally done cooking, he tried to stick a fork into the udder. It bounced straight back at him. If only he’d carried Apicius in his backpack!