Aaah, the Romans. What is it about this ancient civilization we find so fascinating? The jewelry? Gladiators? Canals? Bathhouses? Their gods? If nothing else grabs your attention then surely you must take interest in their food. They lived in a climate kissed by the sun, the sea, and the four seasons. Now thanks to the other end of the historic continuum (the internet) you have access to one of Rome’s prized collection of recipes.
It’s pretty safe to say the copyright on the collection of recipes written by Marcus Apicius during Roman times has expired. All the recipes have been translated from Latin into English. Appropriately named, De Re Coquineria, it’s fascinating snapshot of a Roman kitchen. Go here to read it online.
De Re Coquineria is actually a collection of 10 books spanning everything from wine to seafood. Don’t forget the roast meats, truffles, sauces and legumes. Scan it for familiar ingredients. It’s also a great inspiration to try spices whose history of use dates back to these ancient times (asafoetida for example).
No need to be intimidated by the exotic Roman ingredients. Here are some suggestions for modern substitutes for ingredients like liquamen, passum, and polomeinze (you’ll have to scroll a couple inches). Seems this is the original Mediterranean diet!
If you want to follow ancient Roman recipes in a modern format try this cookbook: Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.
Have fun with it and enjoy! And please, share your thoughts.