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Book III

This webpage reproduces a Book of the
De Re Coquinaria


published by Walter M. Hill, 1936

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
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Book V

De Re Coquinaria

 p93  Book IV. Miscellanea
Lib. IV. Pandecter1

1 Read: Pandectes — embracing the whole science.

Chap. I Boiled Dinners.
Chap. II Dishes of Fish, Vegetables, Fruits, and so forth.
Chap. III Finely Minced Dishes, or Isicia.
Chap. IV Porridge, Gruel.
Chap. V Appetizing Dishes.


125 Boiled Dinner

Pepper, fresh mint, celery, dry pennyroyal, cheese,​2 pignolia nuts, honey, vinegar, broth, yolks of egg, fresh water, soaked bread and the liquid pressed out, cow's cheese and cucumbers are arranged in a dish, alternately, with the nuts; also add finely chopped capers,​3 chicken livers;​4 cover completely with a lukewarm, congealing broth, place on ice and when congealed unmould and serve up.​5

1 Read: Salacaccabia — from salsa and caccabus — salt meat boiled in the pot. Sch. Sala cottabia; G.‑V. cattabia.

2 Sch. casiam instead of caseum.

3 Sch. Copadiis porcinis — small bits of pork; List. cepas aridas puto "shallots, I believe"; Lan. capparis; Vat., G.‑V. id.

 p94  4 Dann. Chicken meat.

5 This dish if pork were added (cf. Sch. in note 3 above) would resemble our modern "headcheese"; the presence of cheese in this formula and in our word "headcheese" is perhaps not accidental; the cheese has been eliminated in the course of time from dishes of this sort while the name has remained with us. "Cheese" also appears in the German equivalent for custard — Eierkäse.

Thayer's Note: This doesn't sound convincing to an American until we think of "mincemeat" which once contained meat, but now almost never does.

At any rate, the recipe itself — chicken and bread bound with eggs, herbed and spiced — reads not like headcheese but like a terrine de volaille en chaud-froid. I too would read, or add, pork rather than capers — capers are already quite small, whereas finely chopped pork meat and chicken is a standard preparation — as is often done today in pâtés and terrines, to give depth and body: see for example a typical such recipe today. Like the French terrine that designates first the mold in which the meat is prepared, then by extension the preparation itself, the Latin name is derived from the container.

The cheese and cucumbers, if fresh, must surely be a garnish; but if preserved (i.e., a hard cheese and pickles) would be grated and minced respectively, and are not unheard-of in terrines today; but more frequent still than grated cheese are allspice or cloves: Schuch's cassia in note 2 is similar.

126 Apician Jelly
Salacattabia Apiciana

Put in the mortar celery seed, dry pennyroyal, dry mint, ginger, fresh coriander, seedless raisins, honey, vinegar, oil and wine; crush it together in order to make a dressing of it. Now Place 3 pieces of Picentian bread in a mould, interlined with pieces of cooked chicken, cooked sweetbreads of calf or lamb, cheese,​1 pignolia nuts, cucumbers [pickles], finely chopped dry onions [shallots] covering the whole with jellified broth. Bury the mould in snow up to the rim; unmould, sprinkle with the above dressing and serve.​2

1 List. caseum Vestinum — a certain cheese from the Adriatic coast.

Thayer's Note: Although the territory of the Vestini touched the Adriatic coast, most of it lay in Italy's central Apennine backbone, and the cheese was almost certainly not from the coast, but from the mountains well inland and much closer to Rome: very likely then of ewe's milk rather than cow's. For details, see the article Vestini in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

2 The nature of the first passage of this formula indicates a dressing for a cold dish. The dish was probably unmoulded when firm, and the jelly covered with this dressing, though the original does not state this procedure. In that case it would resemble a highly complicated chicken salad, such as we make today — mayonnaise de volaille en aspic, for instance. We recall the artistic molds for puddings and other dishes which the ancients had which were nicely suited for dishes such as the above.

The Picentian bread — made of spelt — was a celebrated product of the bakeries of Picentia, a town of lower Italy, near the Tuscan sea, according to Pliny [H. N. III.70].

cf. ℞ No. 141.

127 Other Salacaccabia

Hollow out an Alexandrine loaf of bread, soak the crumbs with posca [a mixture of water, wine, vinegar or lemon juice] and make a paste of it. Put in the mortar pepper, honey,1 mint, garlic, fresh coriander, salted cow's cheese, water and oil. Wine​2 poured over before serving.​3

1 Wanting in Tor.

2 G.‑V. insuper nivem — chilled on snow (like the preceding formula). Tac. insuper vinum; Sch. id.

 p95  3 A panada as is found in every old cookery book. Today it remains as a dressing for roast fowl, etc. Quoting from "A Collection of Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery," London, 1724:

"Panada for a Sick or Weak Stomach. Put the crumbs of a Penny White-Loaf grated into a Quart of cold Water, set both on the Fire together with a blade of Mace: When 'tis boil'd smooth, take it off the fire and put in a bit of Lemon-peel, the juice of a Lemon, a glass of Sack [Spanish Wine] and Sugar to your Taste. This is very Nourishing and never offends the Stomach. Some season with butter and Sugar, adding Currants which on some occasions are proper; but the first is the most grateful and innocent."

Mrs. Glasse, a quarter century later, in her famous book [The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, London, 1747, 1st ed.] omits the wine, but Mrs. Mason, at about the same time, insists on having it with panada.

The imaginary or real relation between the sciences of cookery and medicine is illustrated here.

Dishes of Fish, Vegetables, Fruits and so forth
Patinae Piscium, Holerum & Pomorum

128 Everyday Dish
Patina quotidiana​1

Make a paste of stewed brains [calf's, pig's, etc.] Season with pepper, cumin, laser, broth, thickened wine, milk and eggs.2 Poach it over a weak fire or in a hot water bath.

1 Tac. quottidiana; List. cottidiana.

2 List. ovis — with eggs, which is correct. Tor. holus; Lan. olus — herbs, cabbage.

Cf. ℞ No. 142.

129 Another Dish, which can be Turned over [A Nut Custard]
Aliter patina versatilis

The dish, called turn-over, is thus made:1 crush very fine walnuts and hazelnuts,2 toast them and crush with honey, mix in pepper, broth, milk and eggs and a little oil.​3

1 Tor.

2 List. torres eas — toast them (wanting in Tor.) which is the thing to do. Cf. No. 143, practically a repetition of this. Cf. 301.

3 This laconic formula indicates a custard poached, like in the preceding, in  p96 a mould, which, when cooled off, is unmoulded in the usual way. This patina versatilis is in fact the modern crême renversée, with nuts.

It is characteristic of Apicius for incompleteness and want of precise directions, without which the experiment in the hands of an inexperienced operator would result in failure.

130 Another
Aliter patina

Another dish is made of the​1 strunks of lettuce crushed with pepper, broth, thickened wine, add water and oil, and cook this; bind with eggs, sprinkle with pepper and serve.​2

1 Tor.

2 Very much like a modern soup, purée of lettuce.

131 Vegetable and brain pudding
Patina frisilis​1

Take vegetables, clean and wash, shred​2 and cook them​3 cool them off and drain them. Take 4 calf's brains, remove the skin and strings and cook them​4 in the mortar put 6 scruples of pepper, moisten with broth and crush fine; then add the brains, rub again and meanwhile add the vegetables, rubbing all the while, and make a fine paste of it. Thereupon break and add 8 eggs. Now add a glassful​5 of broth, a glassful of wine, a glassful of raisin wine, taste this preparation. Oil the baking dish thoroughly put the mixture in the dish and place it in the hot plate, (that is above the hot ashes)​6 and when it is done unmould it sprinkle with pepper and serve.​7

1 List. frictilis; Vat. MS. fusilis; G.‑V. id.; Lan. frisilis.

Patina frisilis remains unexplained. None of the various readings can be satisfactorily rendered. If the vegetables had remained whole the dish might be compared to a chartreuse, those delightful creations by the Carthusian monks who compelled by the strictest rules of vegetarianism evolved a number of fine vegetable dishes. On the other hand, the poached mixture of eggs and brains is akin to our farces and quenelles; but in modern cookery we have nothing just like this patina frisilis.

Thayer's Note: I would call this a timbale. Since the mad cow flap, brains are very hard to come by in the market: sweetbreads will work too.

2 Wanting in List.

3 and 4 Wanting in Tor.

5 Cyathum.

 p97  6 Sentence in () ex Tor.

7 This and some of the following recipes are remarkable for their preciseness and completeness.

132 Another Cold Asparagus and Figpecker Dish
Aliter patina de asparagis frigida

Cold asparagus pie is made in this manner:1 take well cleaned cooked asparagus, crush it in the mortar, dilute with water and presently strain it through the colander. Now trim, prepare [i.e., cook or roast] figpeckers​2 and hold them in readiness. 3​3 scruples of pepper are crushed in the mortar, add broth, a glass of wine, put this in a saucepan with 3 ounces of oil, heat thoroughly. Meanwhile oil your pie mould, and with 6 eggs, flavored with oenogarum, and the asparagus preparation as described above; thicken the mixture on the hot ashes. Thereupon arrange the figpeckers in the mould, cover them with this purée, bake the dish. When cold, unmould it sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 Tor.

2 Lan. and Tac. ficedulas curtas tres; Tor. curtas f., three figpeckers cut fine. G.‑V. F. curatas. Teres in . . . (etc.) — Prepared F.

3 List. six; G.‑V. id.

133 Another Asparagus Custard
Alia patina de asparagis

Asparagus pie is made like this:1 Put in the mortar asparagus tips;2 crush pepper, lovage, green coriander, savory and onions; crush, dilute with wine, broth and oil. Put this in a well-greased pan, and, if you like, add while on the fire some beaten eggs to it to thicken it, cook without boiling the eggs and sprinkle with very fine pepper.

1 Tor.

2 Reference to wine wanting in Tor. We add that the asparagus should be cooked before crushing.

 p98  134 A Dish of Field Vegetables
Patina ex rusticis​1

By following the above instructions you may make​2 a pie of field vegetables, or of thyme​3 or of green peppers​4 or of cucumbers or of small tender sprouts​5 same as above, or, if you like, make one underlaid with boneless pieces of fish or of chicken combined with any of the above vegetables.​6

1 Tor. Patina ex oleribus agrestibus.

2 Tor. wanting in other texts.

3 Sch., G.‑V. tamnis — wild thyme; List. cymis cuminis; Lan., Tac. tinis; Vat. MS. tannis. Thyme is hardly likely to be the chief ingredient of such a dish; the chances are it was used for flavoring and that the above enumerated vegetables were combined in one dish.

4 List., G.‑V., Goll. — mustard; Dann. green mustard. Tor. sive pipere viridi — green peppers, which we accept as correct, gastronomically, at least.

5 Goll., Dann. cabbage, the originals have coliculis — small tender sprouts on the order of Brussels sprouts or broccoli, all belonging to the cabbage family.

6 Pulpa — boneless pieces of meat, also fruit purée; pulpamentum — dainty bits of meat.

135 Elderberry Custard or Pie
Patina de sambuco​1

A dish of elderberries, either hot or cold, is made in this manner:2 take elderberries,3 wash them; cook in water, skim and strain. Prepare a dish in which to cook the custard;4 crush 6 scruples of pepper with a little broth; add this to the elderberry pulp with another glass of broth, a glass of wine, a glass of raisin wine and as much as 4 ounces of oil. Put the dish in the hot bath and stir the contents. As soon as it is getting warm, quickly break 6 eggs and whipping them, incorporate them, in order to thicken the fluid. When thick enough sprinkle with pepper and serve up.

1 G.‑V. Sabuco.

2 Tor. wanting in other texts.

3 Hum. semen de sambuco — E. seed.

4 List. Place the berries in a dish; to their juice add pepper, (etc.).

 p99  136 Rose Pie, Rose Custard or Pudding
Patina de rosis

Take roses fresh from the flower bed, strip off the leaves, remove the white from the petals and put them in the mortar; pour over some broth and rub fine. Add a glass of broth and strain the juice through the colander. This done take 4 cooked calf's brains, skin them and remove the nerves; crush 8 scruples of pepper moistened with the juice and rub with the brains; thereupon break 8 eggs, add 1​1 glass of wine, 1 glass of raisin wine and a little oil. Meanwhile grease a pan, place it on the hot ashes or in the hot bath in which pour the above described material; when the mixture is cooked in the bain marie2 sprinkle it with pulverized pepper and serve.​3

1 List., G.‑V. 1½ glass.

2 Hot water bath.

3 Tor. continues ℞ No. 135 without interruption or caption, and describes the above recipe. He reads: De thoris accipies rosas, but List. insists that de thoris be read de rosis; Lan., Tac. de toris; V. de thoris may be read "fresh from the flower bed." Cf. ℞ Nos. 167 and 171 in which case the "rose" may stand for rosy apple, or "Roman Beauty" apple. "Rose apple" also is a small pimento, size of a plum.

137 Pumpkin Pie
Patina de cucurbitis​1

And pumpkin pie is made thus:2 stewed and mashed pumpkin is placed in the pan or pie dish seasoned with a little cumin essence. Add a little oil; heat [bake] and serve.​3

1 Dann. Cucumber Dish.

2 Tor. Wanting in other texts.

3 Modern English recipes for stewed pumpkin resemble this Apician precept, but America has made a really palatable dish from pumpkin by the addition of eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger — spices which the insipid pumpkin needs. The ancient original may have omitted the eggs because Apicius probably expected his formula to be carried out in accordance with the preceding formulae. Perhaps this is proven by the fact that Tor. continues with the Rose Pie recipe with et cucurbita patina sic fiet.

Thayer's Note: No argument with pumpkin pie; but pumpkin is hardly insipid, and one of the great classics of French cooking, gratin de potiron d'Arpajon, is a simple purée of pumpkin and white beans, with some cheese and cream, very slightly herbed but with no strong spice at all.

 p100  138 Sprats or Smelts au Vin Blanc
Patina de apua​1

Clean the smelts or other small fish, filets of sole, etc. of white meat marinate (i.e., impregnate with) in oil, place in a shallow pan, add oil, broth​2 and wine. Bunch​3 fresh rue and marjoram and cook with the fish. When done remove the herbs, season the fish with pepper and serve.​4

1 Ex List. and G.‑V. wanting in Tor.

2 Liquamen, which in this case corresponds to court bouillon, a broth prepared from the trimmings of the fish, herbs, and wine, well-seasoned and reduced.

3 Our very own bouquet garni, a bunch of various aromatic herbs, inserted during coction and retired before serving.

4 Excellent formula for fish in white wine, resembling our ways of making this fine dish.

This again illustrates the laconic style of the ancient author. He omitted to say that the fish, when cooked, was placed on the service platter and that the juices remaining in the sauce pan were tied with one or two egg yolks, diluted with cream, or wine, or court bouillon, strained and poured over the fish at the moment of serving. This is perhaps the best method of preparing fish with white meat of a fine texture. Pink or darker fish do not lend themselves to this method of preparation.

139 Smelt Pie, or, Sprat Custard
Patina de abua sive apua​1

Boneless pieces of anchovies or other small fish, either roast [fried] boiled, chop very fine. Fill a casserole generously with the same; season with crushed pepper and a little rue, add sufficient broth and some oil, and mix in, also add enough raw eggs so that the whole forms one solid mass. Now carefully add some sea-nettles but take pain that they are not mixed with the eggs. Now put the dish into the steam so that it may congeal but avoid boiling.​2 When done sprinkle with ground pepper and carry into the dining room. Nobody will be able to tell what he is enjoying.​3

1 Tac., Tor. sic. List., G.‑V., p. de apua sine apua — a dish of anchovies (or smelts) without anchovies. Tor. formula bears the title patina de apua, and his  p101 article opens with the following sentence: patinº de abua sive apua sic facies. He is therefore quite emphatic that the dish is to be made with the abua or apua (an anchovy) and not without apua, as List. has it. Lan. calls the dish: P. de apabadiade, not identified.

2 Tor. impones ad uaporem ut cum ouis meare possint — warning, get along with the eggs, i.e. beware of boiling them for they will curdle, and the experiment is hopelessly lost. List. however, reads meare possint thus: bullire p. . . . — boil (!) It is quite plain that Tor. has the correct formula.

3 et ex esu nemo agnoscet quid manducet. Dann. renders this sentence thus: "Nobody can value this dish unless he has partaken of it himself." He is too lenient. We would rather translate it literally as we did above, or say broadly, "And nobody will be any the wiser." List. dwells at length upon this sentence; his erudite commentary upon the cena dubia, the doubtful meal, will be found under the heading of cena in our vocabulary. List. pp126‑7. List. undoubtedly made the mistake of reading sine for sive. He therefore omitted the apua from his formula. The above boastful sentence may have induced him to do so.

The above is a fish forcemeat, now seldom used as an integral dish, but still popular as a dressing for fish or as quenelles. The modern fish forcemeat is usually made of raw fish, cream and eggs, with the necessary seasoning. The material is poached or cooked much in the same manner as prescribed by the ancient recipe.

140 A Rich Entrée of Fish, Poultry and Sausage in Cream
Patina ex lacte

Soak pignolia nuts, dry them, and also have fresh sea-urchins​1 ready. Take a deep dish casserole in which arrange the following things in layers: medium-size mallows and beets, mature leeks, celery, stewed tender green cabbage, and other boiled green vegetables,​2 a disjointed​3 chicken stewed in its own gravy, cooked calf's or pig's brains, Lucanian sausage, hard boiled eggs cut into halves, big Tarentinian sausage​4 sliced and broiled in the ashes, chicken giblets or pieces of chicken meat. Bits of fried fish, sea nettles, pieces of stewed oysters and fresh cheese are alternately put together; sprinkle in between the nuts and whole pepper, and the juice as is cooked from pepper, lovage, celery seed and silphium. This essence, when done, mix with milk to which raw eggs have been added pour  p102 this over the pieces of food in the dish so that the whole is thoroughly combined, stiffen it in the hot water bath and when done garnish with fresh mussels, sea-urchins, poached and chopped fine; sprinkle pepper over and serve.

1 Sea-urchins, wanting in Tor.

2 Sentence wanting in G.‑V.

3 Pullum raptum, in most texts; G.‑V. p. carptum — plucked. Of course! Should raptum be translated literally? A most atrocious way of killing fowl, to be sure, but anyone familiar with the habits of the ancients, particularly with those of the less educated element, should not wonder at this most bestial fashion, which was supposed to improve the flavor of the meat, a fashion which, as a matter of fact still survives in the Orient, particularly in China.

4 Vat. MS. Tarentino farsos; Tor. cooks the sausage in the ashes — coctos in cinere; List. in cinere legendum jecinora — chicken giblets. Lister's explanation of the Tarentinian sausage is found in the vocabulary, v. Longano.

Thayer's Note: At first sight bewilderingly complex, this dish is actually something between a New England Boiled Dinner and a Paella, with the vegetables of the former and the characteristic mix of chicken, seafood, and sausage of the latter.

141 Apician Dish
Patina Apiciana​1

The Apician dish is made thus: take small pieces of cooked sow's belly with the paps on it pieces of fish, pieces of chicken, the breasts of figpeckers or of thrushes slightly cooked, and whichever is best. Mince all this very carefully, particularly the figpeckers the meat of which is very tender. Dissolve in oil strictly fresh eggs; crush pepper and lovage, pour over some broth and raisin wine, put it in a saucepan to heat and bind with roux. After you have cut all in regular pieces, let it come to the boiling point. When done, retire from the fire with its juice of which you put some in another deep pan with whole pepper and pignolia nuts. Spread the ragout out in single layers with thin pancakes in between; put as many pancakes and layers of meat as is required to fill the dish; put a final cover of pancake on top and sprinkle with pepper after those eggs have been added which serve to tie the dish. Now put this mould or dish in a boiler steamer, hot water bath, allow to congeal and dish it out by unmoulding it. An expensive silver platter would enhance the appearance of this dish materially.

1 Cf. ℞ No. 126.

 p103  142 An Every-day Dish
Patina quotidiana​1

Pieces of cooked sow's udder, pieces of cooked fish, chicken meat and similar bits, mince uniformly, season well and carefully.​2 Take a metal dish for a mould. Break eggs in another bowl and beat them. In a mortar put pepper, lovage and origany,​3 which crush; moisten this with broth, wine, raisin wine and a little oil; empty it into the bowl with the beaten eggs, mix and heat it in the hot water bath. Thereupon when this is thickened mix it with the pieces of meat. Now prepare alternately layers of stew and pancakes, interspersed with oil in the metal mould reserved for this purpose until full, cover with one real good pancake,​4 cut into it a vent hole for chimney on the surface bake in hot water bath and when done turn out upside down into another dish. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 List. cottidiana; G.‑V. cotidiana. "Everyday Dish, in contrast to the foregoing Apician dish which is more sumptuous on account of the figpeckers or thrushes. In the originals these two formulae are rolled into one. Cf. ℞ No. 128.

2 G.‑V. Haec omnia concides; Tor. condies; List. condies lege concides which we dispute. Condies — season, flavor — is more correct in this place; concides — mince — is a repetition of what has been said already.

3 Origany wanting in G.‑V.

4 List. superficie versas in discum insuper in superficium pones; Sch. a superficie versas indusium super focum pones; G.‑V. in discum; Tor. unum uerò laganum fistula percuties à superficie uersas in discum in superficiem praeterea poneas — which we have translated literally above, as we believe Tor. to be correct in this important matter of having a chimney on top of such a pie.

143 Nut Custard Turn-over​1
Patina versatilis vice dulcis

Pignolia nuts, chopped or broken nuts (other varieties) are cleaned and roasted and crushed with honey. Mix in, beat well pepper, broth, milk, eggs, a little honey​2 and oil. Thicken slowly on fire without boiling, fill in moulds, taking care that the nuts do not sink to the bottom, bake in hot water bath, when cold unmould.

 p104  1 Practically the only recipe in Apicius fairly resembling a modern "dessert." This is practically a repetition of ℞ No. 129, which see.

2 Tor. modico melle; List. m. mero — pure wine and also pure honey, i.e. thick honey for sweetening. Wine would be out of place here. This is an excellent example of nut custard, if the "pepper" and the "broth" (liquamen), of the original, in other words spices and brine, or salt, be used very sparingly. For "pepper" nutmeg or allspice may be substituted, as is used today in such preparations. The oil seems superfluous, but it is taking the place of our butter. This very incomplete formula is characteristic because of the absence of weights and measures and other vital information as to the manipulation of the materials. None but an experienced practitioner could make use of this formula in its original state.

Goll. adds toasted raisins, for which there is no authority.

The text now proceeds without interruption to the next formula.

144 Tyrotarica​1
Patella thirotarica​2

Take any kind of salt fish​3 cook fry or broil it in oil, take the bones out, shred it and add pieces of cooked brains, pieces of other, fresh (?) fish, minced chicken livers​4 and cover with hot soft (i.e. liquefied) cheese. Heat all this in a dish; meanwhile grind pepper, lovage, origany, seeds of rue with wine, honey wine and oil; cook all on a slow fire; bind this sauce with raw eggs; arrange the fish, etc. Properly incorporate with the sauce, sprinkle with crushed cumin and serve.​5

1 G.‑V., List., Vat. MS. Thyrotarnica; cf. notes to ℞ Nos. 427, 428.

2 Tor.

3 Tor. Wanting in other texts.

4 List., G.‑V. here add hard boiled eggs, which is permissible, gastronomically.

5 Modern fish au gratin is made in a similar way. Instead of this wine sauce a spiced cream sauce and grated cheese are mixed with the bits of cooked fish, which is then baked in the dish.

Brains, chicken, etc., too, are served au gratin, but a combination of the three in one dish is no longer practiced. However, the Italian method of baking fish, etc., au gratin à l'Italienne contains even more herbs and wine reduction than the above formula.

 p105  145 Salt Fish Balls in Wine Sauce​1
Patella arida​2

Dry pieces of salt tursio​3 are boned, cleaned soaked in water, cooked shredded fine and seasoned with ground pepper, lovage, origany, parsley, coriander, cumin, rue seeds and dry mint. Make fish balls out of this material and poach the same in wine, broth and oil; and when cooked, arrange them in a dish. Then make a sauce utilizing the broth, the court bouillon in which the balls were cooked season with pepper, lovage, satury, onions and wine and vinegar, also add broth and oil as needed, bind with roux,4 pour over the balls, sprinkle with thyme and ground pepper.​5

1 Reminding us of the Norwegian fiske boller in wine sauce, a popular commercial article found canned in delicatessen stores.

2 List. patella sicca — dry, perhaps because made of dried fish.

3 List. isicia de Tursione; G.‑V. Thursione. Probably a common sturgeon, or porpoise, or dolphin. List. describes it as "a kind of salt fish from the Black Sea; a malicious fish with a mouth similar to a rabbit"; Dann. thinks it is a sturgeon, but in Goll. it appears as tunny. The ancients called the sturgeon acipenser; but this name was gradually changed into styrio, stirio and sturio, which is similar to tursio (cf. styrio in the vocabulary). The fish in question therefore may have been sturgeon for which the Black Sea is famous.

4 List., G.‑V. ovis obligabis — tie with eggs — certainly preferable to the Tor. version.

5 Tor. thyme.

The above is an excellent way of making fish balls, it being taken for granted, of course, that the salt fish be thoroughly soaked and cooked in milk before shaping into balls. The many spices should be used very moderately, some to be omitted entirely. We read between the lines of the old formula that Tursio had a long journey from Pontus to Rome; fish however dry acquires a notorious flavor upon such journeys which must be offset by herbs and spices.

It is quite possible that the ancients made a réduction of the herbs and spices mentioned in the formula; in fact, the presence of vinegar leads us to believe this, in which case this formula would be nothing but a very modern sauce. The herbs and spices in a réduction are crushed and boiled down in vinegar and wine, and strained off, they leave their finest flavor in the sauce.

146 Vegetable Dinner
Patella ex olisatro​1

Any kind of vegetables or herbs blanched off in water  p106 with a little soda; squeeze out the water arrange in a saucepan. Grind pepper, lovage, coriander, satury, onion with wine, broth, vinegar and oil; add this to the vegetables, stew all until nearly done and tie with roux. Sprinkle with thyme, finely ground pepper and serve. Any kind of vegetable​2 may be prepared in the above manner, if you wish.

1 Wanting in Tac. and Tor.; G.‑V. patellam ex holisatro.

2 It is worth noting that Tor. and Tac. omit this recipe entirely and that Tor. concludes the preceding formula with the last sentence of the above formula, except for the difference in one word. Tor. et de quacunque libra [List. et al. herba] si volueris facies ut demonstratum est suprà. This might mean that it is optional (in the preceding formula) to shape the fish into one pound loaves instead of the small fish balls, which is often done in the case of forcemeats, as in veal, beef, ham loaves, or fish pie.

We are inclined to accept the reading of Torinus, for the above way of preparing "any kind of vegetables or herbs" is somewhat farfetched. Furthermore, the vegetable dish would more properly belong in Book III.

Just another example of where readings by various editors are different because of the interpretations of one word. In this case one group reads libra whereas the other reads herba.

147 A Dish of Sardines
Patella de apua​1

Sardine loaf (or omelette) is made in this manner:2 clean the sardines of skin and bones; break and beat eggs and mix with half of the fish;​3 add to this some stock, wine and oil, and finish the composition by heating it. When done to a point, add the remaining part of the sardines to it, let it stand a while over a slow fire to congeal; carefully turn over, dish it up, mask with a warm​4 wine sauce, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 G.‑V. Patina de apua fricta — same as aphya, fried fresh small fish of the kind of anchovies, sardines, sprats.

In experimenting with this formula we would advise to use salt and oil judiciously if any at all. We have no knowledge of the ancient apua fricta other than our making of modern sardines which is to fry them in oil as quickly as possible after the fish has left the water, for its meat is very delicate. For an omelette, our modern sardines, including kippered smelts, sprotten, and similar smoked and processed fish, contain sufficient salt and fat to season the eggs of an omelette.

 p107  2 Tor. Sentence wanting in other texts.

3 Tor. cum aqua; List., G.‑V. cum apua. Perhaps a typographical error in Tor. A little water is used to dilute the eggs of an omelette, but Apicius already prescribes sufficient liquids (stock or brine, water) for that purpose.

4 Tor. et in calore oenogarum perfundes; List., G.‑V. ut coloret — to keep the omelette in the pan long enough to give it "color." We prefer the Torinus version because an omelette should have no or very little color from the fire (the eggs thus browned are indigestible) and because hot oenogarum (wine-fish sauce, not in List.) is accompanying this dish, to give additional savour and a finishing touch.

148 Fine Ragout of Brains and Bacon
Patina ex laridis​1 et cerebellis

The dish of bacon and brains is made in this manner:2 strain or chop fine hard boiled eggs​3 with parboiled brains (calf's or pig's) the skin and nerves of which have been removed; also cook chicken giblets, all in proportion to the fish.4 Put this aforesaid mixture in a saucepan, place the cooked bacon in the center, grind pepper and lovage and to sweeten add a dash of mead, heat, when hot stir briskly with a rue whip and bind with roux.

1 G.‑V. lagitis; Tor. laridis and largitis; Vat. MS. lagatis; List. pro lagitis . . . legendum Lacertis. The lacertus, according to List., is a much esteemed salt fish not identified. List. et al. seem to be mistaken in their reading of lacertis for laridis. This word stands for salt pork, from laridum and lardum (French, lard; the English lard is applied to the rendered fat of pork in general). Cf. notes to ℞ No. 41.

Thayer's Note: lacertus = probably horse-mackerel; for citations, see Mair's note to Oppian, Hal. I.106.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

3 oua dura; Sch. o. duaº — two eggs.

4 This formula would be intelligible and even gastronomically correct were it not for this word "fish." However, we cannot accept Lister's reading lacertis. We prefer the reading, laridis, bacon. The French have another term for this — petits salés. Both this and the Torinus term are in the plural. They are simply small strips of bacon to which Torinus again refers in the above formula, salsum, coctum in medio pones — put the bacon, when done, in the center (of the dish). Regarding salsum also see note to ℞ No. 41.

The above dish resembles ragoût fin en coquille, a popular Continental dish, although its principal ingredients are sweetbreads instead of brains.

 p108  149 Broiled Mullet
Patina ex piscibus mullis​1

A dish of mullet consists of​2 scaled salt mullet placed in a clean pan with enough oil​3 as is necessary for cooking; when done add a dash of honey-wine or raisin wine, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 List., G.‑V. mullorum loco salsi — salt mullet.

2 Tor. wanting in other texts.

3 List. liquamen — broth, brine, which would be worse than carrying owls to Athens. As a matter of fact, the mullet if it be what List. says, loco salsi — salted on the spot, i.e. as caught, near the sea shore, requires soaking to extract the salt.

150 A Dish of Any Kind of Salt Fish
Patina ex piscibus quibuslibet​1

Another fish dish is thus made:2 fry any kind of cured​3 fish, carefully treated, soaked and cleaned; place in a pan, cover with sufficient oil, lay strips of cooked salt​4 pork or bacon — petits salés over the center, keep it hot, when real hot, add a dash of honey wine to the gravy and stir it up.​5

1 Ex Tor.; G.‑V. P. piscium loco salsi.

2 Tor.; sentence wanting in other texts.

3 Tor. duratoshard — no sense here, probably a misprint of the d. List. curatos — carefully treated, "cured," processed.

4 Salsum coctum, cf. notes to ℞ No. 148; Goll., Dann. — sprinkle [the fish] with salt . . . Like Lister's error in the preceding formula it would be a great blunder to add salt to a cured fish already saturated with salt to the utmost. Cf. also note 2 to ℞ Nos. 41, 148.

5 Virtually a repetition of ℞ 149, except for the addition of the pork.

151 Another Fish Dish, with Onions
Alia piscium patina

Another fish dish make as follows:1 clean any kind of fish and place it properly in a saucepan with shredded dry Ascalonian onions [shallots] or with any other kind of onions, the fish on top. Add stock and oil and cook. When done, put broiled bacon in the center, give it a dash of vinegar,  p109 sprinkle with finely chopped savory and garnish with the onions.

1 Tor., sentence wanting in other texts.

[image ALT: A rectangular dish of an intricate floral pattern, with several fish fillets decorated with several half a dozen strips of bacon.]

I made this as the main course of an ordinary fall dinner in Oct 2012, accompanied by ℞ No. 163. The recipe is an easy one, but I don't grow savory, and it proved impossible to find in the neighborhood: I substituted a mix of fresh sage, mint, and parsley. The fish I found at the store — Chicago not a place for fish, limited selection — was ocean perch, which is somewhat too fat for the recipe, and at the last minute I forgot the vinegar, so my result was a B‑; now that's still good, but the vinegar is clearly essential, much as it is in the British "fish and chips", and demonstrates Apicius' mastery of cooking. The technique of simmering the fish on its bed of shallots, by the way, infuses their flavor into the fish; the remaining shreds of them are not strong-tasting at all. With the vinegar, and a leaner fish (red snapper or sole) it would have been an A.

152 A Lucretian Dish
Patina Lucretiana​1

Clean young onions, rejecting the green tops, and place​2 them in a saucepan with a little broth, some oil and water, and, to be cooked with the onions place salt pork​3 in the midst of the scallions. When nearly done, add a spoon of honey,4 a little vinegar and reduced must, taste it, if insipid add more brine (broth). If too salty, add more honey, and sprinkle with savory.​5

1 Dann. Named for Lucretius Epicuraeus, a contemporary of Cicero. List. ab authore cui in usu fuit sic appellata.

Thayer's Note: A cavalier assertion based on no evidence. Epicuraeus merely means "the Epicurean (philosopher)"; the person referred to is T. Lucretius Carus, the well-known author of the De rerum natura. The gens Lucretia was a large and important family, and this dish may have been named for any member of it.

2 G.‑V. concides. Not necessary.

3 salsum crudum — salt pork, i.e. not smoked or cured bacon. Dann. raw salt; Goll. salt. Impossible, of course! Cf. notes to ℞ Nos. 41, 147, 149.

4 To glaze the pork, no doubt; reminding us of our own use of sugar to glaze ham or bacon, and of the molasses added to pork (and beans).

5 G.‑V. coronam bubulam. In experimenting with this formula omit salt completely. Instead of honey we have also added maple syrup once. To make this a perfect luncheon dish a starch is wanting; we have therefore added sliced raw potatoes and cooked with the rest, to make it a balanced meal, by way of improving upon Lucretius. Since the ancients had no potatoes we have, on a different occasion, created another version by added sliced dasheens (colocasia, cf. ℞ Nos. 74, 216, 244, 322). It is surprising that the ancients who used the colocasium extensively did not combine it with the above dish.

153 Stewed Lacertus Fish
Patina de lacertis​1

Clean and wash soak the fish​2 cook and flake it break and beat eggs, mix them with the fish, add broth, wine and oil. Place this on the fire, when cooked [scrambled] add simple fish wine sauce​3 to it, sprinkle with pepper and serve.​4

1 Ex List. wanting in Tor. G.‑V. P. de lagitis; cf. note to ℞ No. 148.

2 Remembering that List. reads lagitis for lacertis, this formula appears to be an antique "Scrambled Eggs and Bacon." Cf. notes to ℞ Nos. 42, 148‑150.

3 Oenogarum, cf. ℞ No. 147, the Sardine Omelette.

4 To cook the eggs as described above would be disastrous. The fish, if such was used, was probably first poached in the broth, wine and oil, and when done, removed from the pan. The fond, or remaining juice or gravy, was subsequently  p110 tied with the egg yolks, and this sauce was strained over the fish dressed on the service platter, the oenogarum sparingly sprinkled over the finished dish. This would closely resemble our modern au vin blanc fish dishes; the oenogarum taking the place of our meat glace.

Another interpretation of this vexacious formula is that if fish was used, the cooked fish was incorporated with the raw beaten eggs which were then scrambled in the pan. In that event this formula resembles closely the sardine omelette.

154 A Fish Stew
Patina a zomore​1

The zomore fish dish is made as follows:2 take raw ganonas​3 and other fish whichever you like, place them in a sauce pan, adding oil, broth, reduced wine, a bunch​4 of leeks and green coriander; while this cooks, crush pepper, lovage and a bunch of origany which crush by itself and dilute with the juice​5 of the fish. Now dissolve break and beat egg yolks for a liaison prepare and taste the dish, binding the sauce with the yolks sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 List. Zomoteganite — "a dish of fish boiled in their own liquor"; G.‑V. zomoteganon; Lan. zomoreganonas; Vat. MS. zomonam Ganas.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

3 ganonas crudas — an unidentified fish.

4 "Bouquet garni."

5 ius de suo sibi — old Plautian latinity. Cf. H. C. Coote, cit. Apiciana; the proof of the antiquity and the genuineness of Apicius.

155 Sole in White Wine
Patina ex soleis​1

A dish of sole is thus made:2 beat the sole​3 prepare​4 and place them in a shallow sauce pan, add oil, broth and wine, and poach them thus; now crush pepper, lovage, origany and add of the fish juice; then bind the sauce with raw eggs yolks to make a good creamy sauce of it; strain this over the sole, heat all on a slow fire to fill it with live heat sprinkle with pepper and serve.​5

1 G.‑V. P. solearum.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

3 Beat, to make tender, to be able to remove the skin.

4 Tor. curatos — trim, skim, remove entrails, wash.

5 One of the best of Apician accomplishments. Exactly like our modern sole au vin blanc, one of the most aristocratic of dishes. Cf. ℞ No. 487, Excerpta, XIX.

 p111  155a Fish Liquor
Patina ex piscibus

A liquor in which to cook fish is made by taking​1 one ounce of pepper, one pint of reduced wine, one pint of spiced wine and two ounces of oil.

1 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

156 A Dish of Little Fish
Patina de pisciculis​1

Take raisins, pepper, lovage, origany, onions, wine, broth and oil, place this in a pan; after this has cooked add to it the cooked small fish, bind with roux and serve.

1 Smelts, anchovies, whitebait.

157 A Dish of Tooth Fish, Dory or Sea Mullet and Oysters
Patina de piscibus dentice, aurata et mugile​1

Take the fish, prepare clean, trim, wash and half broil or fry them; thereupon shred them in good-sized pieces: next prepare oysters; put in a mortar 6 scruples of pepper, moisten with broth and crush. Add a small glass of broth, one of wine to it; put in a sauce pan 3 ounces of oil and the shelled oysters and let them poach with wine sauce. When they are done, oil a dish on which place the above mentioned fish pieces and stewed oysters, heat again, and when hot, break 40​2 eggs whip them and pour them over the oysters, so that they congeal. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.​3

1 dentex — "tooth-fish"; aurata — "gilt" — dory, red snapper; mugilis — Sea Mullet, according to some.

Thayer's Note: Not the best note. The Latin mugil (not *mugilis, a mistake) is the standard name of the grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) or of the red surmullet, which are both salt-water fish. See "The Roman Craze for Surmullets" (Class. Weekly, XLII.186 ff.)

2 G.‑V. ova XI — 11 eggs. Tac. ova Xl, which may be read XL — forty.

3 This dish may be allowed to congeal slowly; if done quickly it may become a dish of scrambled eggs with fish and oysters.

158 Sea Bass, or Barracuda
Patina de lupo​1

Grind pepper, cumin, parsley, rue, onions, honey, broth, raisin wine and drops of oil.​2

1 G.‑V. p. de pisce lupo — wolf, because of its voracity; a sea fish, sea  p112 pike, or sea bass; perhaps akin to our barracuda, wolfish both in appearance and character. Sch. Perca labrax Lin.

2 The cleaned fish is cut into convenient portions or fillets, placed in an oiled pan, the ingredients spread over; it is either poached in the oven or cooked under the open fire.

Schuch here inserts his ℞ Nos. 153 to 166 which more properly belong among the Excerpta of Vinidarius and which are found at the end of Book X by Apicius.

159​1 A Dish of Sorb-apple, hot or cold
Patina de sorbis calida et frigida

Take medlars, clean them, crush them in the mortar and strain through colander. 4 cooked calf's or pork brains, skinned and fried from stringy parts, put in the mortar with 8 scruples of pepper, dilute with stock and crush, adding the medlar pulp and combine all; now break 8 eggs and add a small glass of broth. Oil a clean pan and place it in the hot bath or in the hot ashes; after you have filled it with the preparation, make sure that the pan gets enough heat from below; let it congeal, and when done sprinkle with a little fine pepper and serve.

1 Sch. ℞ No. 166.

160​1 A Dish of Peaches​2
Patina de persicis

Clean hard-skinned peaches and slice, stew them; arrange in a dish, sprinkle with a little oil and serve with cumin-flavored wine.​3

1 Sch. ℞ No. 167.

2 Tor. is not sure whether this is a Persian fish or peaches — persica.

3 Dann. Pepper, for which there is no authority.

161​1 A Dish of Pears
Patina de piris

A dish of pears is made this way:​2 stew the pears, clean out the center remove core and seeds crush them with pepper, cumin, honey, raisin wine, broth and a little oil; mix with eggs, make a pie (custard) of this, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 Sch. ℞ No. 168.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

 p113  162 A Dish of Sea-nettles​a
Patina de urtica​1

A dish of sea-nettles, either hot or cold, is made thus:​2 take sea-nettles, wash and drain them on the colander, dry on the table and chop fine. Crush 10 scruples of pepper, moisten with broth, add 2 small glasses of broth and 6 ounces of oil. Heat this in a sauce pan and when cooked take it out and allow to cool off. Next oil a clean pan, break 8 eggs and beat them; combine these with the above preparations, place the pan on hot ashes to give it heat from below, when done [congealed] sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 G.‑V. p. urticarum calida et frigida.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

163 A Dish of Quinces
Patina de cydoniis​1

A dish of quinces is made as follows:​2 quinces are cooked with leeks, honey and broth, using hot oil, or they are stewed in honey.​3

1 G.‑V. p. de Cydoneis.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

3 This latter method would appeal to our modern notion of preparing fruits of this sort; we use sugar syrup to cook them in and flavor with various spices, adding perhaps a little wine or brandy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a frying pan containing the lower portions of three leeks, and some smaller caramelized things around the sides.]

I interpreted this as a dish of leeks with quince, rather than the other way around, and served it as a vegetable to accompany ℞ No. 151. Making the dish on an impulse (Oct 2012), I found no quinces that day at my usual neighborhood store, so I substituted quince paste, and apples for texture; since quince paste is sweet, using less honey than I would have otherwise. Because hot oil isn't needed if all we want to do is cook the ingredients, I interpreted the recipe by browning them first, then adding the stock and reducing. The result was very good: nicely caramelized, not at all as sweet as I thought it would be, and the quince flavor coming thru to complement the leeks in an interesting way. I rated my result an A‑.

Of Finely Chopped, Minced Meats
De minutalibus​1

164 A Mince of Sea Food
Minutal marinum

Place the fish in sauce pan, add broth oil and wine and poach it. Also finely chop leek heads (the white part only of leeks) and fresh coriander. When cool, mince the fish fine form it into small cakes​2 adding capers​3 and sea-nettles well cleaned. These fish cakes cook in a liquor of pepper, lovage and origany, crushed, diluted with broth and the above  p114 fish liquor which skim well, bind with roux or eggs, stir, strain over the cakes, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 G.‑V. minutal de piscibus vel Isiciis.

2 Tac. G.‑V. isiciola . . . minuta — resembling our modern quenelles de poisson — tiny fish dumplings.

3 Tac. cum caparis; Tor. c. capparibus; Vat. MS. concarpis; List. G.‑V. concerpis.

165 Tarentine Minutal
Minutal Tarentinum​1

Finely chop the white part of leeks and place in a sauce pan; add oil fry lightly and broth; next add small sausage to be cooked likewise. To have a good Tarentine dish, they must be tender. The making of these sausages will be found among the isicia [Nos. 60‑66].​2 Also make a sauce in the following manner: crush pepper, lovage and origany, moisten with broth, add to the above sausage gravy, wine, raisin wine; put in a sauce pan to be heated. When boiling, skim carefully, bind, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 G.‑V. Terentinum, for which there is no reason. Tarentum, town of lower Italy, now Taranto, celebrated for its wine and luxurious living.

2 Such references to other parts of the book are very infrequent.

[image ALT: A close‑up shot of several largish sausages in a thin gravy with finely chopped leeks.]

Photograph and commentary © Nickolas Urpí 2018, by kind permission.

Mr. Urpí writes:

For the Lucanian sausage, I used what I could find and omitted the ingredients that were not readily available or had a likely substitute. Cumin, savory, parsley were used, about a teaspoon of the first two and a tablespoon of the latter per pound of pork. I added salt, liquamen, and skipped the laurel berries, as my research could not lead me to what they would taste like. I then added peppercorns and pine nuts as well as a little broth (a slight variation of the oxygarum with mushrooms). I hand-stuffed these into pork casings and smoked the sausages in a barbecue with wood. The resulting flavors were outstanding, especially when smoked, and is highly recommendable as a recipe.

166 Apician Minutal
Minutal Apicianum

The Apician minutal is made as follows:​1 oil, broth wine, leek heads, mint, small fish, small tidbits​2 cock's fries or capon's kidneys​3 and pork sweetbreads; all of these are cooked together.4 Now crush pepper, lovage, green coriander, or seeds, moistened with broth; add a little honey, and of the own liquor​5 of the above morsels, wine and honey to taste; bring this to a boiling point, skim, bind, stir well strain, pour over the morsels sprinkle with pepper and serve.​6

1 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

2 isitiaquenelles, dumplings of some kind, mostly fine forcemeats.

3 testiculi caponum; the capon has no testiculi, these organs having been  p115 removed by an operation when the cock is young. This operation is said to have been first performed by a Roman surgeon with the intention of beating the Lex Fannia, or Fannian law, sponsored by a fanatic named Fannius. It prohibited among other restrictions the serving of any fowl at any time or repast except a hen, and this hen was not to be fattened. Note the cunning of the law: The useful hen and her unlaid eggs could be sacrificed while the unproductive rooster was allowed to thrive to no purpose, immune from the butcher's block. This set the shrewd surgeon to thinking; he transformed a rooster into a capon by his surgical trick. The emasculated bird grew fat without his owner committing any infraction of the Roman law against fattening chickens. Of course the capon, being neither hen nor rooster, was perfectly safe to eat, for he was within the law. Thus he became a huge success as an ancient "bootleg" chicken.

Thayer's Note: For a more neutral view of the law, and the loci in the classical texts, see the article Lex Fannia in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

4 These integral parts must be prepared and poached separately and merely heated together before the final service.

5 Again the Plautian colloquialism ius de suo sibi.

6 This dish is worthy of Apicius. It is akin to our Ragoût Financière, and could pass for Vol-au‑vent à la Financière if it were served in a large fluffy crust of puff paste.

167 Minutal à la Matius​1
Minutal Matianum

Put in a sauce pan oil, broth finely chopped leeks, coriander, small tid-bits, cooked pork shoulder, cut into long strips including the skin, have everything equally half done. Add Matian apples​2 cleaned, the core removed, slice lengthwise and cook them together: meanwhile crush pepper, cumin, green coriander, or seeds, mint, laser root, moistened with vinegar, honey and broth and a little reduced must, add to this the broth of the above morsels, vinegar to taste, boil, skim, bind strain over the morsels sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 Named for Matius, ancient author, or because of the Matian apples used in this dish, also named for the same man. Plinius, Nat. Hist. lib. XV, Cap. 14‑15, Columella, De re rustica, lib. XII, Cap. XLIIII.

This is not the first instance where fruits or vegetables were named for famous men. Beets, a certain kind of them were named for Varro, writer on agriculture. Matius, according to Varro, wrote a book on waiters, cooks, cellar men and food service in general, of which there is no trace today. It was already lost during Varro's days.

2 Cf. note 1, above. This illustrates the age-old connection of pork and apples.

 p116  168 Sweet Minutal
Minutal dulce​1

In a sauce pan put together oil, broth, coctura​2 finely cut leek heads and green coriander, cooked pork shoulder, small tid-bits. While this is being cooked, crush pepper, cumin, coriander or its seeds, green rue, laser root, moistened with vinegar, reduced must and the gravy of the above morsels; add vinegar to taste: when this sauce is cooked, hollow out citron squash​3 cut in dice, boil and place them together with the rest in the dish, skim, bind, strain the sauce pour it over the morsels sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 G.‑V. m. ex citriis.

2 At this late point Apicius commences to use the term coctura which does not designate any particular ingredient but rather stands for a certain process of cookery, depending upon the ingredients used in the dish. We would here interpret it as the frying of the leeks in oil, etc. In another instance coctura may mean our modern réduction.

3 The fruit to be used here has not been satisfactorily identified. The texts have citrium and citrum — a sweet squash or cucumber — perhaps even a melon, but not the citron, the mala citrea read by List. This specimen is hard to identify because of the many varieties in the cucumber, squash and the citrus families. Citrus, as a matter of fact, is but a corruption of cedrus, the cedar tree.

We are not sure whether this fruit is to be stuffed with the ragout and then baked, as is often the custom to do with such shells; the texts prescribesº distinctly to hollow out the fruit.

The title, implying a "sweet dish" is obviously wrong.

It may be remarked here that Apicius makes no mention of that marvelous citrus fruit, the lemon, nor of the orange, both of which are indispensable in modern cookery.

169 Minutal of Fruit
Minutal ex praecoquis

In a sauce pan put oil, broth and wine, finely cut shallots, diced cooked pork shoulder. When this is cooked, crush pepper, cumin, dry mint, dill, moisten with honey, broth, raisin wine and a little vinegar, some of the gravy of the above morsels. Add fruits the seeds of which have been taken out, let boil, when thoroughly cooked, skim, bind, sprinkle with pepper and serve.​1

 p117  1 This, rather than ℞ No. 168, deserves the title, Sweet Minutal, for it is practically the same, with the addition of the fruit.

170 Minutal of Hare's Livers
Minutal leporinum

The way to make a minutal of hare's giblets may be found among the hare recipes.​1

[170a]2 In a sauce pan put oil, broth and wine, finely cut shallots, diced cooked pork shoulder. When this is cooked, crush pepper, cumin, dry mint, dill, moisten with honey, broth, raisin wine and a little vinegar, some of the gravy of the above morsels, add seedless fruits, let boil, when thoroughly cooked, skim, bind, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

1 ℞ No. 386, Book VIII is one of these recipes. This is one of the few instances where the ancient original makes any reference to any other part of the Apicius book. (Cf. ℞ No. 166.) After this bare reference, the original proceeds to repeat the text of the preceding formula verbatim.

2 Brandt suggests a new title for [170a] Another Sweet Minutal.

The G.‑V. version differs but little from ℞ No. 169.

171 Red Apple Minutal
Minutal ex rosis​1

Make this the same way as described in the foregoing, only add more raisin wine.

1 List. Roses; Tor. Rosatium; this term, medieval Latin, does not exist in the ancient language.

Sch. mala rosea — rosy or red apple, most likely to be the correct interpretation. Cf. ℞ Nos. 136 and 167.

The above title has led to the belief that the ancients made pies, etc., of roses, an idea that was much ridiculed in England after the publication of Lister's work in 1705.

We concur with Schuch's interpretation that rosy apples were used, remembering, however, that the result of the rose tree, the hip, dog-briar, eglantine is also made into dainty confections on the Continent today. It is therefore entirely possible that this recipe calls for the fruit of the rose tree.

Tisanam vel sucum

172 Barley Broth, Pap, Porridge, Gruel
Tisana sive cremore​1

Crush barley, soaked the day before, well washed,  p118 place on the fire to be cooked in a double boiler. When hot add enough oil, a bunch of dill, dry onion, satury and colocasium​2 to be cooked together because for the better juice, add green coriander and a little salt; bring it to a boiling point. When done take out the bunch of dill and transfer the barley into another kettle to avoid sticking to the bottom and burning. Make it liquid by addition of water, broth, milk; strain into a pot covering the tops of the colocasia. Next crush pepper, lovage, a little dry flea-bane, cumin and sylphium.3 Stir it well and add vinegar, reduced must and broth; put it back into the pot, the remaining colocasia finish on a gentle fire.​4

1 Tor. ptisana siue Cremore.

2 G.‑V. Coloefium Tor. coloesium and colesium (the different readings perhaps on account of the similarity of the "long" s with the f). Tor. spells this word differently every time he is confronted with it. Tac., Lan. coledium — unidentified. List. colocasium, which see in notes to ℞ Nos. 74, 200, 216, 244, and 322, also Sch. p95.

3 List. sil frictum; Tor. silphium f.

4 Tor. continuing without interruption. This formula is reported in ℞ No. 200.

173 Another Tisana
Tisana taricha​1

The cereal​2 is soaked; chickpeas, lentils and peas are crushed and boiled with it; when well cooked, add plenty of oil. Now cut green herbs, leeks, coriander, dill, fennel, beets, mallows, cabbage strunks, all soft and green and finely cut, and put in a pot. The cabbage cook separately. Also crush fennel seed, origany, sylphium and lovage, and when crushed, add broth to taste, pour this over the porridge, stir it together and use some finely chopped cabbage stems to sprinkle on top.​2

1 Variants: barrica, farrica List. legendum, puto, Taricam; id est Salsam. Cf. ℞ 144, 149, 426‑8. Lan., Tor., G.‑V. barricam, not identified. Sch. farrica — corn spelt; probably not far from the mark. We would venture to suggest that our "farina" is the thing here used, or any ordinary corn meal.

Thayer's Note: By "corn meal" Vehling means either the meal of any cereal (British usage of the word "corn"), or that today we can substitute corn meal. Corn (in British usage, maize) is a New World plant unknown to the Romans.

2 This formula is repeated in ℞ No. 201.

 p119  V

174 "Moveable" Appetizers
Gustum versatile

The moveable​1 appetizers are thus made:​2 small white beets, mature leeks, celery roots​3 stewed cockles4 ginger​5 chicken giblets, small fowl​6 small morsels cooked in their own liquor.​7 Oil a pan, line it with mallow leaves and a composition of different vegetables, and, if you have room enough, bulbs, damascus plums, snails, tid-bits​8 short Lucanian sausage sliced; add broth, oil, wine, vinegar put on the fire to heat and so cook them. Meanwhile crush pepper, lovage, ginger, a little tarragon, moisten it and let it cook. Break several eggs in a dish, use the remaining liquor in the mortar to mix it with the sauce in the dish and to bind it. When this is done, make a wine sauce for it as follows: crush pepper, lovage, moistened with broth, raisin wine to taste; in a small sauce pan put a little oil with the other ingredients; heat, and bind with roux when hot. Now unmould, upset the dish on a platter, remove the mallow leaves, pour over the wine sauce, sprinkle with pepper and serve.​9

1 Moveable, either because it is one show piece that is carried from one guest to another, or, as here indicated, a dish that is to be unmoulded or turned out of its mould or pan before service.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

3 Celery roots, i.e. the thick bulbs. G.‑V. apios, bulbos — celery, onions; note the comma after apios.

4 Periwinkles, also snails.

5 Tac., Lan. gingibera; Tor. zinziber; Vat. MS. gibera; G.‑V. Gigeria; Hum. id. — giblets. Wanting in List.

6 List. avicellas; Vat. MS. aucellare and scellas; Tac., Lan. id.; Tor. pullorum axillas — chicken wings (?) G.‑V. ascellas.

7 ex iure.

8 isitia — quenelles of forcemeat, etc.

9 An extremely complicated composition of varied morsels, definite instructions lacking, however. It is not clear whether the dish was served hot (in which case the dish would not stand up long) or whether served cold, jellyfied.  p120 Moreover, the title gustumhors d'oeuvres — is not consistent either with similar creations by Apicius or with our own notions of such dishes. This title may merely suggest that such a dish was to be served at the beginning of a repast. This recipe presents an instance of the difficulty to render the text and its variants in a manner acceptable to our modern palates.

We are of the opinion that the above recipe is a contraction of two or more formulae, each of which, separately, might make acceptable hot appetizers.

175 Vegetable relish​1
Gustum de oleribus​2

For this vegetable dish boil bulbs​3 in broth, oil, and wine; when done add liver of suckling pig​4 chicken livers and feet and small birds​5 cut in halves, all to be cooked with the bulbs. When done, crush pepper, lovage, moistened with broth, wine, raisin wine to sweeten it. Add of the own liquor of the morsels, retire the onions, when done group the morsels together in the service dish; bind the sauce with roux in the last moment, strain over the morsels and serve.

1 An entremet of fowl and livers.

2 a misnomer, as vegetables play the least part in this dish.

3 Onions, etc.

4 jecinora porcelli; Sch. iscinera porcellum.

5 Tor. axillas and scellas; see note 6 to ℞ 174.

176 Stuffed Pumpkin Fritters
Gustum de cucurbitis farsilibus

A dish of stuffed pumpkin​1 is made thus:​2 peel and cut the pumpkin lengthwise into oblong pieces which hollow out and put in a cool place. The dressing for the same make in this way: crush pepper, lovage and origany, moistened with broth; mince cooked brains and beat raw eggs and mix all together to form a paste; add broth as taste requires. Stuff the above prepared pieces of pumpkin that have not been fully cooked with the dressing; fit two pieces together and close them tight holding them by means of strings or skewers. Now poach them and take the cooked ones out and fry them.​3 The proper wine sauce for this dish make thus: crush pepper, lovage moistened with wine, raisin wine to  p121 taste, a little oil, place in pan to be cooked; when done bind with roux. Cover the fried pumpkin with this sauce, sprinkle with pepper and serve.​4

1 Dann. cucumbers, for which there is no authority. Cucumbers lend themselves equally well for a dish of this kind; they are often stuffed with a forcemeat of finely minced meats, mushrooms, eggs, breadcrumbs, or simply with raw sausage meat, cooked as above, and served as a garnish with entrées.

2 Tor. sentence wanting in other texts.

3 Presumably in deep fat or oil, a procedure which would require previous breading in bread crumbs or enveloping in frying batter.

4 Whether you like pumpkin and brains or not — Apicius in this dish reveals himself as the consummate master of his art that he really is — a cook for cooks; moreover, the lucidity of his diction in this instance is equally remarkable. It stands out in striking contrast to his many other formulae which are so obscured. Many of them perhaps were precepts of likewise striking originality as this one just cited.

177 Compote of early fruit
Gustum de praecoquis

Clean hard-skinned early fruits​1 remove the seeds and keep them cold in a pan. Crush pepper​2 dry mint, moistened with broth, adding honey, raisin wine, wine and vinegar; pour this over the fruit in the pan, adding a little oil. Stew slowly on a weak fire, thicken the juice with roux [rice flour or other starch diluted with water] sprinkle with pepper​2 and serve.​3

1 Lister praises the early green fruit and the use thereof, and, as a physician, recommends imitation of the above as follows: In aliis plurimis locis hujus fructus mentio fit; usuque mirabilis fuit; & certe propter salubritatem, nostram imitationem meretur.

2 We do not like the "pepper" in this connection and we venture to suggest that in this case the term probably stands for some other kind of aromatic seed less pungent than the grain known to us as "pepper" and one more acceptable to the fine flavor of fruit, namely pimiento, allspice for instance, or clove, or nutmeg, or a mixture of these. "Pepper" formerly was a generic term for all of these spices but was gradually confined to the grain pepper of black and white varieties.

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.

3 We concur with Lister's idea of the use of early fruits. The use of early and unripe fruit for this and similar purposes is excellent. The above formula is  p122 a good example of our "spiced" peaches, pears, etc., usually taken as a relish. Of course, we use sugar instead of honey for sweetening, and brandy instead of wine; but the underlying principles are alike.

Thayer's Note: Praecoquis may well be generic "early fruits", which is what the word means etymologically — while we're at it, in case you've seen it elsewhere online ▸ no, the word does not mean "precious"! — but soon came to mean the apricot, which I prefer here and elsewhere in Apicius. The derivation of our word apricot, by the way, partially confirms the use of the Latin word to signify it: from French abricot, Catalan abercoc, from Arabic al‑barquq (البرقوق), from . . . Latin praecox, literally "early ripening", whence also, and more directly, our own precocious.

This is a good illustration of and speaks well for the economy and the ingenuity of the ancients.

End of Book IV
Explicit Apicii pandecter, liber quartus [Tac.]

Thayer's Note:

a The translation of urtica by "sea-nettles" is unwarranted. The plain and normal sense of the word is the ordinary stinging (land) nettle, which is commonly eaten today, both in Italy and elsewhere; I've eaten them there myself. I am indebted to Susan Davies for the reminder.

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