Dormice and Other Ancient Delicacies

We carry culture via three methods: language, music, and food. I have been studying ancient Roman foodways while working on Pompeii Fire. While I’ve only reproduced one recipe to date (a chard dish that was a huge hit in our household), I have others in the pipeline. Here is some excellent information on ancient Greek and Roman foodways, via Nicholas Rossis.

Nicholas C. Rossis

I have a confession: besides writing, I love cooking and I love food.

Perhaps that explains why the parts I enjoy most in fantasy or historical fiction books concern the little things – things like food and drink. What kind of dinner do the protagonists enjoy, given that modern staples such as tomatoes and potatoes didn’t exist until fairly recently?

Let’s have a look at what an ancient Greek or Roman dinner table looked like.

Ancient Greece

Olive oil | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookThis could have been taken two millennia ago

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the East introduced the Greeks to the joys of lemons and ice cream. Indeed, Alexander has been described as an ice cream addict.

However, ancient Greek food was much simpler, consisting mainly of cereals – most prominently barley, emmer, and einkorn. Legumes like lentils, peas, and chickpeas were also popular.

These were used to produce not just stews but…

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5 thoughts on “Dormice and Other Ancient Delicacies

    1. It’s almost ridiculously easy. I got it from a cookbook called “Dining as a Roman Emperor,” purchased in the gift shop at Herculaneum.

      Of course, I’ve spent the past 20 minutes trying to find the book so I could share the recipe, so I’ll have to promise you a rain check.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The cookbook has been found, huzzah! The recipe is from Apicius, De re coquinaria III.xi.2.

      What you need:

      Swiss chard, approximately 2 lbs.
      2 teaspoons dijon mustard
      1 tablespoon vinegar
      3 tablespoons oil (I used EVOO)

      What you’ll do:

      Boil the greens in salted water, drain well, and press between clean hands to remove all the water. Then, in a small bowl make a dressing with the other ingredients and dress the chard while it is still hot. It will be even better if you let it rest for a bit to let the flavors blend.

      Liked by 1 person

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