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Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome 1st Edition
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I would have liked more illustrations or possibly photos of how the recipes turned out with Faas' attempts at making them. Other than that, this was a fun and interesting book.
When I decided I needed to know more about food and eating in the ancient world of my own work in progress, I went overboard and ordered three different books on it. When they arrived I had to choose which one to start with. Looking them over, I thought that Patrick Faas’s book would provide the best introduction. Now, although I haven’t read the other two books yet, I feel sure that I chose right.
The other books are primarily cookbooks, and Faas’s book is also that, with plenty of recipes drawn from ancient authors, notably Apicius, who wrote “the only gastronomic cookery book handed down to us from classical antiquity.” But it’s also much more than that. Faas sets the scene by taking us through all the things that surrounded the dishes themselves, starting with a “culinary history” of Rome that looks at the agricultural basis of Roman society and the various influences that affected it, such as Africa and Greece, and other factors such as feast days, philosophy, and sumptuary laws. He moves on to a study of “the meal,” with chapters on table manners, the courses of a meal, the menu, and “the carousal” or drinking party that usually followed a dinner party. The author goes on to discuss Roman wine and other drinks, the Roman cook, and his condiments. Only then, in Part Two of the book, 175 pages in, does Faas start presenting recipes for actual dishes.
I was captivated by so much of what I found in this book. I knew that Romans reclined to eat their dinners, but how exactly did they arrange themselves around the table, and who reclined next to whom? The answers are here, along with illustrations. Did Romans really gorge themselves and then vomit up their food to eat more?Read more ›