This morning we embarked upon an adventure in the culinary arts, striving to recreate an authentic, ancient Roman meal from Apicius’ recipes within the St. Stephen’s kitchen. With the help of the two chefs, Paolo and Tamara, bridging any language barriers, we soon learned how to properly hollow zucchini, slice chicken, grind beef, and cut onions. Once these essential skills were mastered, it was time to fill the zucchini pods with the beef, and the most daring few grabbed gloves to play with, mold, and utilize the red material, which resembled a brain. It reminded us of the fried brains we ate in the Jewish ghetto. While music played in the background, the three main dishes came into being: chickpeas with string beans in an incredible honey-wine sauce, zucchinis stuffed with beef, and chicken with peas. These three plates became our lunch for the day, as we were able to experience a meal similar to ones the Romans had, a fact made more exciting because we were a part of the preparations every step of the way. These surviving recipes provide a link to the past, but a somewhat unsure one, as scholarly commentary exists to try to identify specific words that we do not understand now, such as the word aphros, which could mean either celery or cider apple or perhaps something entirely different.
With lunch taken care of, this afternoon was devoted to filmmaking, as we reenacted sections from Latin texts that we have read here in Rome. While one group acted out Horace’s Satire 1.9 when he is harassed walking down the Via Sacra, another enacted Cicero’s Prima Oratio In Catilinam. Check the blog again soon to see these videos and our acting skills.
Written by Rachel Edelson