I love vintage things – even ancient recipes. The site Dusty Old Thing, is a favorite for antique enthusiasts. Among other things, they posted a link to a video about an ancient Roman recipe. On the 24th of August AD 79, a baker put his loaf of bread into the oven. Nearly 2,000 years later it was found during excavations in Herculaneum. The British Museum asked Giorgio Locatelli to recreate the recipe as part of his culinary investigations for ‘Pompeii Live from the British Museum‘.
Herculaneum was a wealthy town neighboring Pompeii, both of which were devastated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was affected by pyroclastic flows that preserved the wooden objects such as roof tops, building beams, beds, doors, and even food. The ancient city can be seen in almost its original splendor. Although Pompeii is more well known in present day, Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses, and far more lavish use of colored marble cladding. If you manage to make this recipe, you can say that you have dined as the Romans did.
Recipe Type: Bread
Author: Once Upon A Tine
Serves: 10 servings
400g biga acida (sourdough)
405g spelt flour
405g wholemeal flour
Melt the yeast into the water and add it into the biga.
Mix and sieve the flours together with the gluten and add to the water mix. Mix for two minutes, add the salt and keep mixing for another three minutes.
Make a round shape with it and leave to rest for one hour. Put some string around it to keep its shape during cooking.
Make some cuts on top before cooking to help the bread rise in the oven and cook for 30–45 minutes at 200 degrees.
Dine like the Romans did when you try this ancient Herculaneum bread recipe from AD 79.
Two things that I love: cookbooks and Cary Grant. Put them together and I’m in ecstacy. That’s what happened when received What Actors Eat When They Eat. It’s a vintage cookbook, published in 1939, which features the favorite recipes of movie stars from that era. Cary Grant loved barbecued chicken. Who knew?
What Actors Eat When They Eat is officially my favorite cookbook. Each recipe is accompanied by a photo and bio of the actor and the actor’s comments about the dish. The comments are cheeky. It’s an enjoyable read even if you don’t care to try the recipes. To be honest, I’ve tried a few and they aren’t that tasty, but they are interesting.
The recipes are quite different than what we would probably have from actors today. Back then there was no concern for gluten free, kale infused, low carb food. Recipes used ingredients like…fat pork and calf’s head! You can read about Lucille Ball’s Brazil nut stuffing, Clark Gable’s hunters breakfast (made with 12 doves), Betty Grable’s watermelon rind pickle, Humphrey Bogart’s cocoanut Spanish cream, Gene Autry’s little pigs in zucchini, and Jack Benny’s shrimp salad a la Benny. The fact that Boris Karloff has steak and kidney pie is just creepy to me. The fact that Al Jolson is shown in black face and his recipe is fried rabbit is a reminder that some things need to stay in the past. Nevertheless, What Actors Eat When They Eat is a delicious piece of Hollywood memorabilia.
Have you ever held your nose to swallow something undesirable without tasting it? Smell affects taste. The prevalence of food porn (visually appetizing, perfectly plated morsels) would indicate that sight affects taste too.
This food blog is filled with food porn. Most food blogs are, because food porn attracts visitors. I’ve made the mistake of going to food blogs with “pretty pictures”, only to be disappointed by a recipe that looked a lot better than it tasted. I’m a repeat visitor to food blogs that have so-so pictures, but amazing recipes and interesting content.
Despite my personal experience, I still feel the need to dish out food porn for my own food blog. I love creating recipes, but I am challenged to produce quality photos that display my dishes well. I’m not a skilled in the fine art of food staging and photography lighting. I rely on Photoshop, stock photography, and luck to create a nice platescape. I have learned a few tricks along the way, about natural lighting, garnishes, props, and camera angles. On occasion it all comes together. I took the photo of the charcuterie featured in this blog post, which for some is no big deal, but for me it was a magnum opus.
We see food and immediately start creating a sensory image. The actual dish may or may not live up to the expectations we have created with our mental palate. In reality, not seeing food may actally heighten the sensory experience. Here’s some food for thought: Dining in the Dark is an event in which guests have dinner in total darkness and take a peek into the lives of the visually impaired. Each guest is on their own to taste, smell, and even feel the food to figure out what you are eating and drinking. It is touted as an unforgettable experience. If you don’t have a Dining in the Dark opportunity in your area, create your own. You can do it on a small scale as a dinner party idea. Forego the food porn and focus on making a fabulous meal!
I love food, but hate foodies. How can it be true? It’s a matter of semantics. A foodie by definition is a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking. However, the connotation of foodie evokes one of two things: the food snob who delights in delicacies to be pretentious (formerly known as the epicure) or the glutton who gorges himself on anything good coming out of a kitchen (formerly known as the gourmand). Neither idea is appetizing to me.
I enjoy food as a hobby – not eating. That may sound weird since I enjoy cooking and blogging about food. My joy comes from learning the background of the dish – its cultural implications, its story. There’s also a bit of fun and adventure in creating a recipe. Another passion of mine is writing. Sharing recipes via a food blog seems natural. I appreciate food as sustenance, as an intrinsic part of culture, and as an opportunity to connect – you know, break bread together. The term “foodie” trivializes the concept of food and all that it represents.
I recognize that eating food is a wonderful sensory experience. The sight, the smell, the touch, and the taste of fresh baked bread is simply amazing. But what about the history of that particular recipe for bread? What about the cultural significance of that type of bread? What conversation took place during the meal? If your only enjoyment derived from food is eating, then called yourself an “eatie”, not a “foodie”.
Sometimes foodies are described as having a discerning palate. There’s a saying that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. The same can be said for food. Diet is often determined by availability, religion, superstition, and tradition. Many Westerners are alarmed by the practice of consuming Asian edibles such as horse meat, fried tarantula, chicken embryo (balut), snake wine and cat excrement coffee. Yet throughout parts of the United States and Europe, you can find dishes such as fried bull testicles (Rocky Mountain Oysters), a pudding of sheep’s organs (Scottish haggis), blood sausage (Polish kiszka), raw bird’s heart (Icelandic Puffin heart), lye fish (Nowegian lutefisk), and rotten maggot cheese (Sardinian casu marzu). As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it could be said that taste is on the tongue of the diner. Bottom line…it doesn’t take a “foodie” to appreciate food.
Tonight marks the end of this chapter of my life, and time to turn a new page. This year was uneventful compared to most. Unlike 2012, which brought a new marriage, a new city, and a new house; 2013 had very little change. I think I needed the stability after so much flux. But now there’s a lot on the horizon again. I have major changes planned for 2014 and I’m ready to get started. You’ll hear more about that stuff in the weeks to come.
I’m also ready to say “so long” to the holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas and Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays. But enough is enough. Let’s move on to a new year and new adventures. I’ve neglected my blog, because I’ve spent too much time cooking and shopping. I’ve had very little time to write. I’ve come to realize that I need time to blog – time to clear my mind and time to myself. Expect more posts in 2014. I’m happy the holiday season is ending. Here’s to a happy new year!