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Cooking Apicius Paperback – October 6, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Sally Grainger has done meticulous research into the elements of Roman cooking, and actually worked the recipes out into very palatable dishes. I've read through almost all the so called Apicius cookbooks and this is by far the most thorough explanation of the ingredients and how they are made, including mulsum and garum, and in depth descriptions of the unusual seasonings like lovage.
This will change how our reenactment and reconstruction efforts will present Roman food from now on, and make the accompanying academic book that much more interesting.
I was also pleased to receive Grainger's "Cooking Apicius". Grainger is both a scholar and an excellent cook of Ancient Roman food. Her book is written in a friendly, personal, and sometimes chatty manner, and contains many Britishisms, but, then, she is British, after all.
Her discussions of various ingredients and cooking techniques were informative. I have cooked from the Flower/Rosenbaum translation, and also own Andre Dalby & Sally Grainger's "Classical Cookbook", "Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome" by Patrick Faas, "Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens" by Mark Grant, "A Taste of Ancient Rome" by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa.
I've found all these books instructive, but I enjoy working out the recipes myself and making my own decisions on what substitutes to use here in the US. At the same time, I always appreciate hearing how another cook interprets a recipe, and I very much appreciated Grainger's explanations throughout of her decisions to make certain interpretations or use particular ingredients.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in cooking recipes from the Apician cookbook, but shy of starting out from the original recipes themselves, which can be rather vague.
The one major failing of the book is that it lacks an index. I am talking about the ink-and-paper, hardcopy, book. Not Kindle. Printed books should have an index, in my opinion.
A minor annoyance is her use of a variety of spoon sizes with no real information. She specifies four sizes of spoons in somewhat vague terms, and only gives the metric volume of the largest. It should have been easy enough to measure and specify the other three spoons that she uses. This would not have been so annoying had she not said that you needed to stick closely to her amounts of ingredients the first time you cooked any recipe of hers, and only vary amounts after you are sure how the dish tastes when cooked her way. That's a little difficult to do if you don't know what amounts she is actually using.
I don't feel it is wise to advise people to wander the streets picking berries from people's hedges, especially when you admit that the ones you are instructing them to pick closely resemble some that are very toxic.Read more ›
First, the history section at the beginning is interesting, detailed and marvelously informative. I enjoyed reading about what the items of food likely were, how they were likely prepared, and who likely did the cooking. The academic work may get into more footnoted details but this was wonderful. Pleasant to read and chock full of details I can USE.
Then there are the recipes. She cooks. The recipes are clear. Understandable. She gives information on period techniques and suggestions for modern methods that give a similar result. USEFUL! I am delighted that I could put a dish in front of my family from the 1st Century AD and know that it is not too different from what people would have eaten.
I love living history. My Byzantine persona for the Society for Creative Anachronism would have likely eaten like this. What bits and pieces I have read from 10th Century, they were eating very similarly to the foods in Apicius and unlike many extant writings, Apicius was written for the cook, likely by a cook, or cooks, and so is practical and not merely philosophic meanderings about food.
For the cook who loves history, or the history buff who wants to cook period appropriate foods, I highly recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting and fun. While some recipes' ingredients are a bit out there, it seems to be a practical interpretation of Roman dishes for modern readers.Published 17 months ago by R. Florio
It is a Time capsule, Mrs Grainger reaches out her hand and stirs the pots as a sous chef in Apicius Kitchen,then retreats bringing the finished product to my... Read morePublished on May 22, 2013 by FRANCISCO A.
I was amazed by this book. I haven't tried all the recipes, but almost all I have tried have been revelatory - why don't we make this food more? Read morePublished on June 7, 2012 by Jo Crabb