Last weekend we had a great time tasting, sniffing and touching Roman food and food remains. For those of you who couldn’t make it, or for those who want more, here are recipes for some of the food from the festival.
Mulsum was a wine flavoured with spices and sweetened with honey, mixed in just before it was drunk. The taste is similar to mulled wine, but more watery.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 4 tbsp runny honey
Add all the ingredients to a large container or pitcher and stir well. Refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the spices to infuse, then remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Serve warm or chilled
This will make about 4 cups and can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If you are using a thick honey, you may need to blend the wine, water and honey before adding in the spices.
Moretum is the name given to a dish prepared in a mortarium or grinding bowl – like a modern pestle and mortar. It is often made of fresh cheese, herbs, olive oil and vinegar and is very similar to what we call pesto. Virgil, a Roman poet, even wrote a poem dedicated to moretum.
- 1 small head of lettuce
- 100g fresh mint
- 50 g fresh parsley
- 200 g ricotta cheese
- 1 small leek/celery
- 50 g coriander seeds
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Olive oil
Process all the ingredients in a food processor – or to be more authentic, in a pestle and mortar.
You can use this as a dip with celery and carrot sticks. You could also spread it on Roman bread – for a recipe, click here.
Libum was a special kind of cake used as an offering to the gods that was sweetened with honey. The recipe comes from Cato (De Agricultura 75), but the cakes are also mentioned by Roman poets, like Ovid.
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 beaten egg
- ½ cup clear honey
- Bay leaves
Grease a baking tray and cover with the bay leaves. Beat the cheese until smooth. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Slowly add the flour to the beaten cheese and egg. Gather up the dough and gently form into a round ball (for one large cake) or into small balls (for smaller cakes). Place the ball(s) directly onto the bay leaves. Bake in a hot oven (425F/200C/gas mark 7) for c 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and score . Warm the honey and pour over the cake(s). Serve warm.
These recipes were cooked and selected for the festival by Simon Blackmore, who is one of the Trendles Project team. We are very grateful to Simon and the Trendles Project for sharing their food with us! To find out more about the Trendles Project, visit their website.