Monday, October 11, 2010

Imperial Feast

Feasting has always played an important role in the ancient and medieval worlds as well as today. Feasts were celebratory, religious and sacrificial, in honour of various gods and goddesses and other sacred occassions.

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, so, for all you Canadians out there, Happy Thanksgiving. Our own table was overflowing with food last night and the wine was certainly flowing, perhaps not in Dionysian proportions but enough to bring a rosy hue to our cheeks. Our sacrifice was a large turkey that fulfilled its role admirably and will provide lunchtime sandwiches for a week.

The ancients did not have turkeys on their tables but they had countless feast days. A recommended read is the Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Adkins and Adkins which has a wonderful chronological list of all of the feast days celebrated in the Greek and Roman world. But what did they eat?

The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger
Well, if you are adventurous in your culinary explorations, you may want to check out The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. This is a wonderfully varied cookbook that contains everything from really easy dishes like chicken stuffed with olives (my favourite!) to more exotic, quirky meals like rock eel with mulberry sauce. Whatever recipe you choose will help you to feed or frighten friends and family. It will also help you writers out there with your research and will add some texture and taste to you dining scenes. The book is well researched, the writers having taken the recipes within from a range of classical texts that describe dishes from such ancient cooks as Marcus Gavius Apicius (inventor the hamburger during the reign of Tiberius).

There is a lot more food and history to be had in this book as well as others that will add a historical twist to any feast. So, if living history is the thing for you, why not step back and try out a feast ancient Greek or Roman style. Could be that your next Halloween, American Thanksgiving or Christmas feast will have people talking for quite some time. Cheers!
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