More Roman recipes!
By Owain Williams
A few weeks ago, I wrote a short blog on trying out one of Manon’s recent recipes that feature in Ancient History – Roman veggie burgers. They were delicious, and I would highly recommend that people try them!
This week, I decided to try out Manon’s next recipe, based upon the recent discovery of a fresco in Pompeii of what some people have called pizza, or pizza’s distant ancestor. Looking at the fresco, it is enticing to see the dish, which appears to be a disc of bread with toppings, as pizza (Manon discusses this claim in her article). The fresco, which is incredibly well-preserved, was revealed during recent archaeological digs in a house next to a bakery in Pompeii’s Regio IX, one of the regiones the archaeological site is divided into.
You can find Manon’s latest recipe in Ancient History 46!
The recently-discovered fresco from Pompeii (Tungsten / Wikimedia Commons)
To accompany Manon’s flatbread, I decided to follow Dr Paula Lock’s recipe for globi (you can find it here), from Cato’s On Agriculture:
“Mix the cheese and spelt in the same way [as for libum], sufficient to make the number desired. Pour lard into a hot copper vessel, and fry one or two at a time, turning them frequently with two rods, and remove when done. Spread with honey, sprinkle with poppy-seed, and serve” (79)
The base of Cato’s recipe is the same as for his libum:
“Bray 2 pounds of cheese thoroughly in a mortar; when it is thoroughly macerated, add 1 pound of wheat flour, or, if you wish the cake to be more dainty, ½ pound of fine flour, and mix thoroughly with the cheese. Add 1 egg, and work the whole well” (75)
To add a modern twist, I decided to air fry half of the globi, just to see if there was a significant difference. The air-fried globi were much fluffier than the pan-friend globi, but they did not have as strong a taste, nor did they have a nice golden colour. Out of necessity, I also had to switch the poppy seeds of Cato’s recipe with sesame seeds. They still gave a nice nutty flavour, however.
I have a couple of tips for anyone who is going to try these recipes:
For the flatbread, if you are going to use spelt flour, make sure your base is very thin. Spelt bread can be quite dense, and Manon’s recipe makes a lot of dough!
These two recipes together are very filling. I made far too much! Make sure you tailor your weights and measures to the number of diners. I halved Manon’s recipe and followed Dr Lock’s recipe for three people. It was still too much.
Don’t skimp on the honey!
This was a very filling lunch, one for having after a morning walk when you don’t have any other plans that day. Happy cooking!