A New Oenogarum

Deciphering and reinventing ancient recipes is an inexact skill. To some degree, it is more like alchemy than anything else. There is a touch of science in the linguistic, historical or archaeological research; a touch of art in the choosing of ingredients and their relative quantities; and a touch of faith or intuition in what feels right from a culinary point of view. The mark … Read more

Variation in Roman Cooking: The Tale of the Cucumber and the Melon

This post recounts the results of an experiment that took place recently between me and my husband. In the Apician cookbook there are two recipes very close together that can be used for either cucumbers or melons: PEPPER, PENNYROYAL, HONEY OR CONDENSED MUST, BROTH AND VINEGAR; ONCE IN A WHILE ONE ADDS SILPHIUM. (Apicius III.6.3 (for cucumbers) and III.7.1 (for melons)) Ingredients are listed, but … Read more

Ancient Roman Cookoff Entry 1 – Pullus Frontonianus by Charles Perry

First up in our Ancient Roman cookoff is an entry by noted scholar, author and food writer, Charles Perry. Charles chose to prepare Pullus Frontonianus which is chicken prepared with a selection of delicious herbs, including dill, leeks, savory and cilantro. To this a touch of garum is added and when cooking is complete, the dish is dressed with grape syrup (defrutum) and black pepper … Read more

Umami in a Bottle

Here it is, the real deal! Amber-colored culinary gold! The first results from last summer’s backyard garum making! As some of you may remember, back in June of last year I started making garum in my backyard with fresh mackerel and lots of sea salt. I also wrote the “garum diaries” until mid-September which described the first 90 days or so of the initial enzymatic … Read more

Making Garum – The Traditional Way

I said we were going to do it in the original post on garum. And so we have. Our attempt to make garum the traditional, slow way has officially begun. Fifteen pounds of fresh, whole Norwegian mackerel, and 12 pounds of sea salt have been combined in a clean, sturdy, sealable, 5-gallon painter’s bucket. And now we wait, and let the heat and humidity turn … Read more

A Roman Holiday

When in Rome – we did as the tourists do. With our young children in tow, we spent unspeakably hot days touring the Forum and Coliseum; spent a morning in the Capitoline Museum and an afternoon on the Palatine Hill under the pines of Rome. Being raised in my father’s Italian-American hometown, every face seemed familiar to me – dark hair, big brown eyes, aquiline … Read more