Ancient Roman Recipes

Lentils and Chestnuts - Lenticulam de castaneis


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Ancient Roman Recipes
Lentils and Chestnuts

Take a new sauce pan, place therein the chestnuts carefully cleaned.
Add water and a little soda and place on the fire to be cooked.
This done, crush in the mortar:
Coriander seed,
Rue, (See note for Rue)
Laser Root (See note for Laser Root) and
Fleabane (See note for Fleabane) moistened with vinegar, honey and broth.
Add vinegar to taste and pour this over the cooked chestnuts,
add oil and allow to boil.
When done crush it in the mortar.
Taste to see if something is missing and if so, put it in,
and at last add green fresh virgin oil.

Also known as silphion or laser root was a plant of the genus Ferula. Generally considered to be an extinct "giant fennel". It became extinct by the end of the 1st century A.D. It had a very strong taste and smell and was used as an onion and garlic substitute. A modern substitute for silphion is asafoetida.

Laser Root
Same as Silphium.

Asafoetida is a strong smelling spice and should be used sparingly. Its predecessor was silphium. Asafoetida was used as substitute for silphium when Alexander the Great invaded Asia. His soldiers discovered a plant that was almost identical with silphium when they were crossing the northeastern provinces of the Persian Empire. Cooks that are interested in recreating ancient Roman recipes today use asafoetida when silphium is called for.

Fleabane aka Flea-bane, Common Fleabane, Middle Fleabane, Rarajeub (Job's Tears), and Pulicaria dysenterica (Inula dysenterica). This herb is from a perennial plant native to most parts of Europe and found growing in masses in moist meadows. It has a soft, hoary foliage with flat heads of one, two, or three bright yellow flowers about an inch across. The size of the flowers is large in proportion to the size of the plant. Fleabane is astringent with a slightly soapy smell and an extremely bitter taste. Its young leaves were also one of the basic ingredients of the Roman summer salads. Modern cooks frequently substitute rosemary when trying to reproduce or mimic ancient recipes without offending modern taste.

Rue is a genus of strongly scented evergreen subshrubs 20-60 cm tall, in the family Rutaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, Macaronesia and southwest Asia. It was used extensively in Middle Eastern cuisine in olden days, as well as in many ancient Roman recipes (according to Apicius), but because it is very bitter, it is usually not suitable for most modern tastes. However, it is still used in certain parts of the world, particularly in northern Africa. Try arrugula or radish leaf as a substitute for rue.

Lenticulam de castaneis (Latin Version)

Accipies caccabum nouum, et castaneas purgatas diligenter mittis. adicies aquam et nitrum modice, facies ut coquatur. cum coquitur, mittis in mortario piper, cuminum, semen coriandri, mentam, rutam, laseris radicem, puleium, fricabis. suffundis acetum, mel, liquamen, aceto temperabis, et super castaneas coctas refundis. adicies oleum. facies ut ferueat. cum bene ferbuerit, tunticulabis ut in mortario teres. gustas, si quid deest, addes. cum in boletar miseris, addes oleum uiridem.