Ancient Roman Recipes

Ostian Meat Balls - Offellae ostienses


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Ancient Roman Recipes
Ostian Meat Balls

Prepare the meat in this manner.
Clean the meat of bones, sinews, etc.
Scrape it as thin as a skin and shape it.
Crush pepper, lovage, (See note for lovage)
cumin, caraway, silphium, (See note for silphium)
one laurel berry, (See note for bay laurel)
moistened with broth.
In a square dish place the meat balls and the spices
where they remain in pickling for two or three days,
covered crosswise with twigs.
Then place them in the oven to be roasted.
When done take the finished meat balls out.
Crush pepper, lovage, with the broth, add a little raisin wine (See note for passum) to sweeten.
Cook it, thicken with roux, immerse the balls in the sauce and serve.

Lovage is a plant, the leaves and seeds or fruit of which are used to flavor food, especially in South European cuisine. It is a tall (3 to 9 ft) perennial that vaguely resembles its cousin celery in appearance and in flavor. Celery leaves can be used as a substitute for lovage.

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.

Bay Laurel
The Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae), also known as True Laurel, Sweet Bay, Laurel Tree, Grecian Laurel, Laurel, or Bay Tree, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub reaching 10–18 m tall, native to the Mediterranean region. The fruit is a small black berry about 1 cm long, containing a single seed. In the Bible, the sweet-bay is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christianity it is said to symbolize the Resurrection of Christ and the triumph of Humanity thereby. Bay Laurel is the source of the bay leaves which are used for their flavour in cooking.

Passum was a style of raisin wine (wine from semi-dried grapes) from ancient Carthage and transmitted from there to Italy, where it was popular under the Roman Empire. Vin Santo is a modern version of Passum from Italy.

Offellae ostienses (Latin Name)