SCA Feast - Push for Pennsic July 9-11,2004 Early Roman Style Feast

Another blast from the past! This was a three course feast done in the Roman Style which would allowed me to offer a selection of several dishes that ran the gamut between savory and sweet in each of the three courses. Most of the items were made ahead of time. Those that required heating were heated on a grill the day of the event. The remaining items were served room temperature. The site of this event is rather primitive, offering no kitchen, and water obtained via a hose. This would have made my third or possibly fourth event that I hosted a feast for over 100 diners where no kitchen was available.

Unfortunately--I assumed that I would remember ...years later mind you...where I found many of these recipes. It would be very safe to assume that they came from one of more the following sources, all of which are available new or used from and which I have in my library.

  • Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome by Apicius
  • The Roman Cookery Book by Apicius and Barbara Flower
  • Cooking Apicius by Marcus Gavius Apicius and Sally Grainger
  • The Roman Cookery Book: A Critical Translation of the Art of Cooking by Apicius and Elisabeth Rosenbaum
  • Cookery And Dining In Imperial Rome: A Bibliography, Critical Review and Translation of Apicius De Re Coquinaria by Apicius and Joseph Dommers Vehling
  • Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens by Mark Grant
  • A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa and Anna Herklotz

Feast Menu


Cucumeres (Braised Cucumber)
Lucanicae (grilled Sausages)
Epityrum (olives)
Moretum (herbed Cheese spread)

Mensa Prima

Petaso paro Mustacei (Smoked Pork (ham) with sweet Wine cakes)
Erebinthoi Knakosymmigeis (chickpeas with Saffron)
Krambe (Roman Cabbage)

Mensa Secunda

Itria (Sesame Seed Biscuit)
Basyniai (Fig and Walnut Cakes)
Assorted Fresh and dried fruit
Assorted Sugared Nuts


Apple Juice
Grape Juice

Interpreted Recipes

Cucumeres - Braised Cucumbers

1 large cucumber
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. clear honey
Salt to taste
Peel and cut the cucumber into thick slices. Pour the vinegar, olive oil and honey into a heavy pan and cook the slices of cucumber gently in the sauce until tender, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the cucumber slices and ensure even cooking. 

Note: Served at room temperature

Lucanicae--Grilled Sausage

1 pound of ground meat *I like to use a mixture of beef and pork
4 tbs. bulger
1 tsp. grd. pepper
2 ½ tsp. liquamen
2 tbs. pine nut, roughly chopped
Salt to taste

Boil bulgur in water to cover until tender, drain and let cool. When cooled mix with the remaining ingredients together. Shape into sausage patties and grill.

Note: This recipe is significantly different from the recipe prepared for Ceilidh XV's Early Roman Feast. Using the same ingredients but prepared much more simply. I assume that I did it this way because of the availability of a grill.


Mustard according to Columella, De re Rustica, XII, 57

Carefully clean mustard seed and sift, then wash in cold water and when well washed leave for two hours in the water. Then remove, press it with your hands and put in a new or a thoroughly cleaned mortar, add pine-kernals which should be as fresh as possible and almonds, pound carefully and pour vinegar on.

*According to Pallidus, VIII, 9: grind to a fine powder 1 1/2 pints mustard seed, add 5 pounds honey, 1 pound spanish oil, 1 pint strong vinegar, mix carefully and use.

The mustard was a mixture of prepared stoneground and honey mustards with the addition of ground pine nuts. Delicious!


4 oz. each black and green olives (preferably brined)
4 tbs. red wine vinegar
4 tbs. olive oil
1 heaped tsp. chopped fennel leaf or finely diced fennel root
2 tsp each chopped coriander, rue**, mint

Pit and rough chop olives, pour on vinegar and olive oil, prepare herbs and add to mixture. Place olive relish in a sealable container and pour a little olive oil over the top.

Note: Rue is an abortifacient. It is one of the herbs that can lead to miscarriages and should not be used if you are cooking for a crowd without some hefty warnings. Better yet--just DON'T use it.

Moretum -- Herbed Cheese Spread

1/2 head (approximately 10 cloves) garlic
3 1/2oz. pecorino romano cheese
1 small bunch coriander leaves
1 ½ stalks. chopped celery and leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. white wine vinegar
1 tbs. olive oil

Peel and roughly chop garlic, grate cheese, roughly chop the herbs. Mix well in food processor or by hand until the mixture is smooth in texture. Serve with crusty bread.

Piadina--Flatbread (Modern Recipe)-Adapted from Italian Cuisine Basic Cooking Techniques by Tony May

Piadina are thin, flat disks, chewier and firmer than bread. Originally, piadina was cooked on an earthenware plate called a testo, which was placed over hot coals. Today, piadine (pl.) are made on the range top using a modern day testo of ghisa (cast iron) or a heavy well-seasoned black cast-iron pan.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. lard **must be lard**
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups water

Pour the flour on the work surface forming a fountain. Add the lard (or extra-virgin olive oil) and knead the dough using just enough lukewarm salted water to obtain a rather firm dough. Knead vigorously for approximately ten minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes. Divide the dough in 6 equal pieces. Roll or stretch each piece of dough into a disk 8 inches in diameter. Riddle each disk with the tines of a fork.

Heat a heavy well-seasoned black cast-iron pan on the range top. Before cooking, test the pan by letting a few drops of cold water fall on it. The pan is ready when the water skips and sputters across its surface. If the water just sits and boils, the pan is not hot enough to use. When the pan is hot, place a disk of dough on its surface. Let the disk heat well on one side and then turn it over. When little charred bubbles form on each side of the disk, the dough is ready. Cook each disk of dough in this manner, stacking the cooked piadine in a towel so that they stay warm.

Petaso paro Mustacei--Smoked Pork (ham) with Sweet Wine Cakes

2 pound smoked ham
2 ½ cups pearl barley
10 dried figs
1 celery stalk
10 peppercorns
1 cup honey

Soak meat overnight in water. Discard water and place meat in a large saucepan, cover with fresh cold water and add the barley, figs, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and ½ cup honey. Bring to the boil, skim and simmer for 1 hour. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the meat from the saucepan and retain the liquor, cool the meat slightly before coating with honey.


1 ¼ cup red wine
1 ¼ cup raisin wine
½ tsp. grd. black pepper

Prepare the sauce. By bringing to boil and reducing slightly.

Sweet wine cakes

2 cups flour
2 tbs. lard
2 oz. cheese grated
1 tsp. grd. Cumin
1tsp. aniseed
3-4 tbs. red wine
bay leaves
½ tsp. dried yeast

To make sweet wine cakes, sift flour and rub in lard. Add cheese cumin and anise seed. Dissolve the yeast in the wine and add bay leaf. Remove bay leave when the yeast has dissolved and add wine to flour. Form a soft dough and knead well, divide into 8 portions and mold into a bun shape. Place on a greased baking tray. Cover and let rise for 1 ½ hours. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden.

Erebinthoi Knakosymmigeis--Chickpeas with Saffron

6 ounces dried chickpeas
a generous pinch of saffron

Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain and put them in heavy pan with 2 pints water and salt. Bring to the boil, add saffron, stir and simmer, covered, gently at least an hour. Serve warm.

Krambe--Roman Cabbage

1 medium cabbage
3 ounces olive oil
1 tbs. liquamen
1 tbs. white wine
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 onion sliced fine
coriander,salt and pepper to taste

Boil cabbage in water 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain, then rinse in cold water until cool, drain again and chop well. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over cabbage. Mix well and serve.

Itria--Sesame Seed Biscuit
1 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup chopped mixed nuts
3/4 cup clear honey

Roast sesame seeds and nuts in the oven at 350 degrees until they take on a little color. Put the honey in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then skim and continue to simmer gently for 7 minutes. Add the nuts and sesame seeds to the honey while warm and mix well. Grease a shallow baking tray or dish and spread the mixture out on it. Allow to cool until you can handle the mixture then mold into balls. Wrap in little pieces of paper and serve with fruit at the end of the meal.

Basyniai--Fig and Walnut Cakes

For the Pastry:

7 ounces unbleached flour
2 ounces olive oil
3 ounces water

Combine flour, olive oil and water in a large mixing bowl. Knead until you have smooth dough, adding more water or flour as needed. Gather up the dough and place in a plastic bag for an hour.

For the filling:

3 ounces walnuts
1 ounce dried figs

Olive oil for Frying
3 ounces warmed honey

Finely grind walnuts and figs together until they form a thick paste

Roll the pastry out as thin as possible (I cheated and used won ton wrappers). Cut with a cutter into 2 1/2 “rounds. Place a teaspoon of the filling onto the dough, wet the edges and seal with another round of dough, pinch the edges closed. Fry in oil until pastries are crisped on both sides. Drain the grease. Drizzle with warmed honey and serve warm.

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