Monday, January 6, 2014

Going Hellenistic

 Flavors and tastes of what rich and fashionable Hellenistic Greek society might have eaten. (Evmaros, November 2010, Athens)
Clockwise from top left:
cabbage, cucumbers, apples, pomegranate seeds; black olives; arugula sprinkled with Vietanmese nuoc mam, a good substitute for garos (the ancient fish sauce); mushrooms with oxymeli ( a boiled mixture of honey, vinegar and water); semi sweet cheese- bread; turnip pickled with mustard; pork belly stuffed with liver, bulgur and blood; boiled tripe served in sharp vinegar, cumin and asafoetida.

When Macedonian Caranous gave his wedding banquet, early in the third century,  only 20 men attended as his guests. As soon as they had sat down, a silver bowl was given to each of them as a present.
When they had drunk the contents of the  bowls, then there was given to each of the guests a loaf  of bread on a bronze platter of Corinthian workmanship, of the same size; and chickens, ducks, pigeons, and a goose and lots of other items. Each guest took the food and gave it, platter and all,  to the slave who waited behind him. Many other elaborate dishes  were also served. And after them, another platter came, this one was made of silver, on which  was placed a large loaf, and on that geese and hares and kids, bread curiously made, and doves, and turtledoves, and partridges, and a great  abudance of many other kinds of birds.
After  some flute-playing women and musicians had played a prelude, other girls came in, each one carrying  two  bottles of perfume bound with a gold cord and they gave a pair to each of the guests.
Then a great treasure was brought in: a silver platter with a golden edge, and large enough to receive a roast piglet of huge size, lying on its back, showing his belly, stuffed with many delicious things: roasted thrushes, and paunches, and a most countless number of fig-peckers, and the yolks of eggs spread on the top, and oysters, and scallops.  And to every one of the guests were given these items, nice and hot, together with the platters.
But this was not the end of the banquet.
Many more items were brought until the serving time of the after- dinner tables: hot kid, roast  fishes,  Cappadocian bread, real Erymanthian boars  and rivers of wine.
Finally, the after-dinner tables: flat cakes - Samian types and Attic types-  Cretan gastrin, along with the special cake- boxes for each of the guests.
What a feast, indeed!  And what a plethora of ingredients and combinations for those who demanded (and could afford) the best, most extravagant,  most fashionable and ultimately most expensive foods. (More)

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