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Bill Thayer

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Book I

This webpage reproduces a Book of the
De Re Coquinaria


published by Walter M. Hill, 1936

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book III

De Re Coquinaria

 p61  Book II. Minces
Liber II. Sarcoptes1

Chap. I Forcemeats, sausage, meat puddings, meat loaves.
Chap. II Hydrogarum, spelt pudding and roux.​2
Chap. III Sow's matrix, blood sausage.
Chap. IV Lucanian sausage.
Chap. V Sausage.

1 Tor. Artoptes; Tac. Artoptus. This may have been derived from artopta — a vessel in which bread and pudding are baked. However, Sarcoptes is the better word, which is Greek, meaning "chopped meats."

2 Tac. Ambolatum, and so in Tor. p15, De Ambolato. Cap. IIII. Cf. our note following No. 58.


41 Minced Dishes

There are many kinds of minced dishes.1 Seafood minces​2 are made of sea-onion, or sea crab-fish, lobster, cuttle-fish, ink fish, spiny lobster, scallops and oysters.​3 The forcemeat is seasoned with lovage,​4 pepper, cumin and laser root.

1 Tor. Sentence wanting in other texts. V. Forcemeats, minced meats, sausage. Tor. Hysitia, from Isicia. This term is derived from insicium, from salsicium, from salsum insicium, cut salt meat; old French salcisse, saulcisse, modern  p62 French saucisse, meaning sausage. This is a confirmation of the meaning of the word salsum — meaning primarily salt meat, bacon in particular. It has survived in modern French terminology in salés more specially petits salés — small rashers of bacon. Salsum has caused much confusion in some later formulae. Cf. notes to Nos. 148, 150, 152.

2 V. fish forcemeats, fish balls, fish cakes and similar preparations.

3 Scallops and oysters wanting in List. and G.‑V.

4 Wanting in List.

42 Cuttle-fish Croquettes
Isicia de lolligine​1

The meat is separated from bones, skin and refuse, chopped fine and pounded in the mortar. Shape the forcemeat into neat croquettes​2 and cook them in liquamen.​3

They are displayed nicely on a large dish.

V. This formula plainly calls for fish balls braised or stewed in broth. Ordinarily we would boil the fish first and then separate the meat from the bones, shred or chop it fine, bind with cream sauce, flour and eggs; some add potatoes as a binder, and fry.

1 1 G.‑V. lolligine; Tor. loligine, which is correctly spelled.

2 Tac. and Tor. in pulmento tundes G.‑V. fulmento which is wrong. Pulmentum, abbreviated for pulpamentum, from pulpa. It means a fleshy piece of fish or meat, a tid-bit.

3 The original says in liquamine fricatur — fry in l., which is impossible in the sense of the word, frying. Either "frying" here stands for cooking, stewing, braising, poaching, or else the so mysterious liquamen must here mean deep fat. Most likely these fish forcemeat balls were fried in olive oil. Cf. ℞ No. 46.

43 Lobster or Crabmeat Croquettes
Isicia de scillis vel de cammaris amplis​1

The shells of the lobsters or crabs which are cooked are broken, the meat extracted from the head and pounded in the mortar with pepper and the best kind of broth. This pulp is shaped into neat little cakes which are fried and served up nicely.​2

1 Scilla or squilla, squill, sea-onion, also a crab, cammarus amplus, large lobster, langouste, spiny lobster.

2 The original omits the mode of cooking the fish. A case where it is taken for granted that the shellfish is boiled in water alive. The broth (liquamen) is a thick fish sauce in this case, serving as a binder for the meat, conforming to present methods.

Dann. Fill this into sausage casing. There is no authority for this.

 p63  44 Liver Kromeskis

Omentata are made in this manner: lightly fry pork liver, remove skin and sinews first.​2 Crush pepper and rue in a mortar with a little broth, then add the liver, pound and mix. This pulp shape into small sausage, wrap each in caul and laurel leaves and hang them up to be smoked. Whenever you want and when ready to enjoy them take them out of the smoke, fry them again, and add gravy.​3

1 From omentum — caul, the membrane enclosing the bowels. Hence "omen." Minced meats wrapped in caul and fried are kromeskis in kitchen terminology.

2 First — an after thought so characteristic in culinary literature, proof enough that this formula originated in a kitchen. The ante tamen of the original belongs to this sentence, not to the next, as the editors have it.

3 Wanting in G.‑V. The original continues without interruption to the next, an entirely new formula.

45 Brain Sausage
Isicia de Cerebellis1

Put in the mortar pepper, lovage and origany, moisten with broth and rub; add cooked brains and mix diligently so that there be no lumps. Incorporate five eggs and continue mixing well to have a good forcemeat which you may thin with broth. Spread this out in a metal pan, cook, and when cooked cold unmould it onto a clean table. Cut into handy size. Now prepare a sauce. Put in the mortar pepper, lovage and origany, crush, mix with broth. Put into a sauce pan, boil, thicken and strain. Heat the pieces of brain pudding in this sauce thoroughly, dish them up, sprinkled with pepper, in a mushroom dish.​2

1 The Original has no title for this dish.

2 List. and G.‑V. here start the next formula, but Tor. continues without interruption. Cf. Note 2 to No. 46.

46 A Dish of Scallops
Isicia ex spondylis​1

Lightly cook scallops or the firm part of oysters. Remove the hard and objectionable parts, mince the meat very fine, mix this with cooked spelt and  p64 eggs, season with pepper, shape into croquettes and wrap in caul, fry, underlay a rich fish sauce and serve as a delicious entrée.​2

1 Sch. sfondilis; G.‑V. sphondylis; List. spongiolis. According to Lister, this is a dish of mushrooms, but he is wrong. He directs to remove sinews when mushrooms haven't any, but shellfish have. Torinus is correct. Gollmer makes the same mistake, believing spondyli to be identical with spongioli. He and Danneil take elixata for "choice" when this plainly means "cooked." If one were not sure of either word, the nature of the subject would leave no room for any doubt. Cf. note 1 to Nos. 115‑221.

2 We may find a reason for the combination of these last three distinctly different formulae into one article in the following explanation. It is possible that these dishes were served together as one course, even on one platter, thus constituting a single dish, as it were. Such a dish would strongly resemble platters of "fritures" and "fritto misto" (mixed fried foods) esteemed in France and Italy. We, too, have "Shore Dinners" and other "Combination Platters" with lobster, crabs, scallops, shrimps, mushrooms, tomatoes — each article prepared separately, but when served together will form an integral part of one dish.

The above formulae, though somewhat incomplete, are good and gastronomically correct. A combination of these isicia such as we here suggest would be entirely feasible and would in fact make a dish of great refinement, taxing the magiric artist's skill to the utmost. We would class them among the entremets chauds which are often used on a buffet table or as hot hors d'oeuvres.

47 Another Kind of Kromeskis​1
Aliter Isicia Omentata

Finely cut pulp of pork is ground with the hearts​2 of winter wheat and diluted with wine. Flavor lightly with pepper and broth and if you like add a moderate quantity of myrtle berries also crushed, and after you have added crushed nuts and pepper​3 shape the forcemeat into small rolls, wrap these in caul, fry, and serve with wine gravy.

1 Wanting in Lister.

2 Fine wheat flour, cream of wheat.

3 Either pepper corns or allspice.

Thayer's Note: Sharp-eyed reader and cook Carole Newson-Smith points out that allspice is native to the New World, and was therefore unknown to the ancient Romans.

The original leaves us in doubt as to the kind of meat to be used, if any.

 p65  II

48 Dumplings of Pheasant
Isicia plena

Lightly roast choice fresh pheasants. Cut them into dice and mix these with a stiff forcemeat made of the fat and the trimmings of the pheasant, season with pepper, broth and reduced wine, shape into croquettes or spoon dumplings, and poach in hydrogarum [water seasoned with garum, or even plain salt water].

49 Dumplings and Hydrogarum
Hydrogarata isicia

Crush pepper, lovage and just a suspicion of pellitory, moisten with stock and well water, allow it to draw, place it in a sauce pan, boil it down, and strain. Poach your little dumplings of forcemeat in this liquor and when they are done serve in a dish for isicia, to be sipped at the table.

50 Chicken Forcemeat
Isicia de pullo

Raw chicken meat, 1 lb. of darnel​1 meal, one quarter pint of stock and one half ounce of pepper.

1 Tor. lolae floris; Hum.-List. and G.‑V. olei floris — virgin olive oil? — first choice flour? Goll. olive (violet?) flowers; Dann. Olive oil.

The suggestion of oil is plausible because of the lack of fat in chicken meat, but the quantity — 1 lb. — is out of question. Moreover, the binder would be lacking. This is found in the Torinus rendering.

His lolae floris should read lolii — from lolium — darnel rye grass or ray grass which was supposed to have intoxicating qualities, injurious to the eye sight. — Ovid [Fasti, I.691] and Plautus [Miles Gl., 320]. The seeds of this grass were supposed to possess narcotic properties but recent researches have cast doubts upon this theory.

A little butter, fresh cream and eggs are the proper ingredients for chicken forcemeat. Any kind of flour for binding the forcemeat would cheapen the dish. Yet some modern forcemeats (sausage) contain as much as fifty percent of some kind of meal. The most effective is that of the soya bean which is not starchy.

51 Chicken Broth Another Style
Aliter de pullo

Chicken meat, 31 peppercorns crushed, 1 choenix​1 full of the very best stock, a like amount of boiled must and eleven measures​2 of water. Put  p66 this in a sauce pan. Place it upon the fire to seethe and evaporate slowly.

1 V.sextarii; Tor. choenicem, cenlicem; List. calicem.

2 choenices? — left in doubt.

This seems to be a chicken broth, or essence for a sauce or perhaps a medicine. Torinus mentions the chicken meat, the others do not.

The original without interruption continues to describe the isicium simplex which has nothing to do with the above.

52 Plain Dumpling with Broth
Isicium simplex

To 1 acetabulum​1 of stock​2 add 7 of water, a little green celery, a little spoonful of ground pepper, and boil this with the sausage meat or dumplings. If you intend taking this to move the bowels the sediment salts​3 of hydrogarum have to be added.​4

1 A measure, 15 Attic drachms.

2 liquamen.

3 Tor. pectines, alias peces hydrogaro conditi; List. sales; G.‑V. faeces.

4 V. The formula is unintelligible, like No. 51 and others, perhaps just another example of medicinal cookery, dishes not only intended to nourish the body but to cure also certain ills. Authors like Hannah Wolley (The Queen-like Closet, London, 1675) and as late as the middle of the 18th century pride themselves in giving such quasi-Apician formulae.

53 Rank of Dishes

Entrées of peacock occupy the first rank, provided they be dressed in such a manner that the hard and tough parts be tender. The second place in the estimation of the Gourmets have dishes made of rabbit.1 Third spiny lobster.2 Fourth comes chicken and fifth young pig.

1 List. and G.‑V. Pheasant.

2 Wanting in the above. Dann. Crane fourth.

Isicia, like in the foregoing formula, commences to become a generic term for "dishes."

54 Potted Entrées
Isicia amulata ab aheno​1

Ground pepper, lovage, origany, very little silphium, a pinch of ginger and a trifle of honey and  p67 a little stock. Put on the fire, and when boiling add the isicia [sausage, meat balls and so forth] to this broth and cook thoroughly. Finally thicken the gravy with roux​2 by sowing it in slowly and stirring from the bottom up.​3

1 Tor. multa ab alieno; Brandt amulata ab aheno; List. amylata — French: liés. Ab aheno — out of the pot.

2 French, for a mixture of wheat or rice flour with fats or liquids to thicken fluids. Amylum, or amulum which hereafter will occur frequently in the original does not cover the ground as well as the French term roux. The quality of the "binder" depends upon the material at hand. Sometimes the fat and flour are parched, sometimes they are used raw. Sometimes the flour is diluted with water and used in that form.

3 List. and G.‑V. sorbendum; Tor. subruendum.

55 Another Thick Entrée Gravy

Grind pepper which has been soaked overnight, add some more stock and work it into a smooth paste; thereupon add quince-apple cider, boiled down one half, that is which has evaporated in the heat of the sun to the consistency of honey. If this is not at hand, add fig wine​1 concentrate which the Romans call "color".​2 Now thicken the gravy with roux or with soaked rice flour and finish it on a gentle fire.

1 Tor. cammarum, which should read caricarum — wine of Carica figs.

2 V. the Roman equivalent for "singe," "monkey," "Affe," — (the vulgo French is literally translated into and in actual use in other languages) caramel color made of burnt sugar to give gravies a palatable appearance. Cf. No. 73.

The reference by the original to "which the Romans call 'color' " indicates, according to Brandt, that this formula is not of Roman origin but probably a translation into Latin from a Greek cookery book.

This is an interesting suggestion, and it could be elaborated on to say that the entire Apicius is not of Roman origin. But why should the Greeks who in their balmy days were so far in advance of Rome in culinary matters go there for such information?

It is more likely that this reference to Rome comes from the Italian provinces or the colonies, regions which naturally would look to Rome for guidance in such matters.

56 Another Amulatum
Amulatum aliter

Disjoint a chicken and bone it. Place the pieces in a stew pan with leeks, dill and salt water or stock.  p68 When well done add pepper and celery seed, thicken with rice,​1 add stock, a dash of raisin wine or must, stir well, serve with the entrées.

1 G.‑V. oryzam; Tor. ditto (and on margin) oridam; Hum. oridiam legendum orindam — a kind of bread. Dann. and Goll. rice flour.

In a general way the ancient formula corresponds exactly to our present chicken fricassée.

57 Spelt or Farina Pudding

Boil spelt with Tor. pignolia nuts and peeled almonds​1 [G.‑V. and] immersed in boiling water and washed with white clay so that they appear perfectly white, add raisins, flavor with condensed wine or raisin wine and serve it in a round dish with crushed​2 nuts, fruit, bread or cake crumbs sprinkled over it.​3

1 V. We peel almonds in the same manner; the white clay treatment is new to us.

G.‑V.: and — which is confusing.

2 The original: confractum — crushed, but what? G.‑V. pepper, for which there is neither authority nor reason. A wine sauce would go well with it or crushed fruit. List. and Goll. Breadcrumbs.

3 This is a perfectly good pudding — one of the very few desserts in Apicius. With a little sweetening (supplied probably by the condensed wine) and some grated lemon for flavor it is quite acceptable as a dessert.

De ambolato cap. IIII

Ex Torinus, not mentioned by the other editors. The sense of this word is not clear. It must be a recipe or a chapter the existence of which was known to Torinus, for he says: "This entire chapter is wanting in our copy."

Thayer's Note: de amylato ("On Starches") seems like an easy and plausible emendation.


59 A Dish of Sow's Matrix
Vulvulae botelli​1

Entrées​2 of sow's matrix​3 are made thus: crush pepper and cumin with two small heads of leek, peeled, add to this pulp rue, broth and the sow's matrix or fresh pork, chop, or crush in mortar very fine then add to this forcemeat incorporating well pepper grains and pine nuts.4 Fill the casing​5 and  p69 boil in water with oil and broth for seasoning and a bunch of leeks and dill.

1 G.‑V. Vulvulae Botelli; Sch. Vulvulae isiciata; Tor. De Vulvulis et botellis. See note No. 3.

2 V. "Entrées" out of respect for the ancients who used them as such; today we would class such dishes among the "hors d'oeuvres chauds."

3 V. Vulvula, dim. for vulva, sow's matrix. Cf. vulva in dictionary. Possible, also possible that volva is meant — a meat roll, a croquette.

4 V. Combinations of chopped nuts and pork still in vogue today; we use the green pistachios.

5 V. The casings which were filled with this forcemeat may have been the sow's matrices, also caul. The original is vague on this point.

60 Little Sausage

Botellum is made of​2 hard boiled yolks of egg​3 chopped pignolia nuts, onion and leeks, raw ground pine,4 fine pepper, stuff in casings and cook in broth and wine.​5

1 V. Botelli, or botuli, are sausage of various kinds; (French, Boudin, English, Pudding). Originally made of raw blood, they are in fact, miniature blood sausage. The absence of meat in the present formula makes me believe that it is not complete, though hard boiled yolk when properly seasoned and mixed with the right amount of fat, make a tasty forcemeat for sausage.

2 Tor. Botellum sic facies ex oui; Sch. and G.‑V. sex ovi — the number of eggs is immaterial.

3 Dann. Calf's Sweetbreads.

4 Goll. Thus crudum — raw blood. Thus or tus is either frankincense or the herb, ground-pine. Dann. Rosemary. Hum. Thus crudum lege jus crudumjus or broth which would make the forcemeat soft. There is no reason for changing "thus" into "jus!"

5 G.‑V. Adicies liquamen et vinum, et sic coques. Tor. & vino decoquas.


61 Lucanian Sausage

Lucanian sausage or meat pudding are made similar to the above: crush pepper, cumin, savory, rue, parsley, condiment, laurel berries and broth; mix with finely chopped fresh Pork and pound well with broth. To this mixture, being rich, add whole pepper and nuts. When filling casings carefully  p70 push the meat through. Hang sausage up to smoke.

V. Lister's interesting remarks about the makers of these sausages are given in the dictionary. Cf. Longano.


62 Sausage

Pound eggs and brains [eggs raw, brains cooked] pine nuts chopped fine, pepper whole, broth and a little laser with which fill the casings. First parboil the sausage then fry them and serve.

V. The directions are vague enough, but one may recognize in them our modern brain sausage.

63 Another Sausage

Work cooked spelt and finely chopped fresh pork together, pound it with pepper, broth and pignolia nuts. Fill the casings, parboil and fry with salt, serve with mustard, or you may cut the sausage in slices and serve on a round dish.

64 Another Sausage

Wash spelt and cook it with stock. Cut the fat of the intestines or belly very fine with leeks. Mix this with chopped bacon and finely chopped fresh pork. Crush pepper, lovage and three eggs and mix all in the mortar with pignolia nuts and whole pepper, add broth, fill casings. Parboil sausage, fry lightly, or serve them boiled.

Tor. and Tac. Serve with pheasant gravy. In the early editions the following formula which thus ends is wanting.

65 Round Sausage
Cirellos isiciatos

Fill the casings with the best material [forcemeat]. Shape the sausage into small circles, smoke. When they have taken on (vermillion) color fry them lightly. Dress nicely garnished on a pheasant wine gravy, flavored, however, with cumin.

V. In Tor. and in the earliest edition this formula has been contracted with the preceding and made one formula.

End of Book II
Explicit liber secundus Apicii artoptus [Tac.]

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