Menu for a Roman Banquet

At its height, the Roman Empire put great emphasis on dining well—at least for the rich. A Roman chef, Apicius, produced the first surviving cookbook. Apicius’s menu for one Roman banquet, which would begin in the late evening and run through the night to the accompaniment of musicians, dancers, acrobats, and poets, follows. The meals also tells us something about the extent of Roman trade, for the ostrich and flamingo came from Africa, the dates from Judea, and the spices from throughout the Empire.

Appetizers

Jellyfish and eggs
Sow’s udders stuffed with salted sea urchins Patina of brains cooked with milk and eggs Boiled tree fungi with peppered fish-fat sauce Sea urchins with spices, honey, oil, and egg sauce

Main Courses

Fallow deer roasted with onion sauce, rue, Jericho dates, raisins, oil, and honey
Boiled ostrich with sweet sauce Turtle dove boiled in its feathers
Roast parrot
Dormice stuffed with pork and pine kernels
Ham boiled with figs and bay leaves, rubbed with honey, baked in pastry crust
Flamingo boiled with dates

Desserts

Fricassee of roses with pastry
Stoned dates stuffed with nuts and pine kernels, fried in honey
Hot African sweet-wine cakes with honey

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