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It is time we talked about what #herbs & #spices the #AncientGreeks used in their #Cooking ...Of course I'll delve into the #AncientRome as well, as we have many surviving texts especially from book such as #Apicius ... Let's get talking! 1/n
We have a few surviving fragments of texts from Archestratus. He was a Sicilian Greek, who circumnavigated the world to satisfy his hunger. From Sicily to the furthermost eastern point of Black Sea, he travelled to find out about the specialities of all the cities in between. 2/n
His chief concern was to find the true flavour of fresh produce, chosen in the right place at the right time of the year.
He was the first #gourmant in that sense. We know that much! He preferred the simpler sauces and only 2-3 herbs or spices as ingredients in his dishes 3/n
But what spices did the ancient Greeks had??? From the oldest Linear B sources, we detect that traded (and most likely used) Coriander, -both leaf and the fruit- Cumin, Fennel. These are ko-ri-ja-do-no (as coriander leaf) ko-rija-da-na perhaps coriander seed... 4/n
...ku-mi-no & ma-ra-tu-wo .These are the Linear B equivalent. Cumin, Theophrastus classed as a pot-herb. But was also a source of spicy seeds widely used in cookery. Coriander leaf and fennel used in herb coating of fishes, and olives in marinades or relishes. 5/n
Sumac was also widely used. Rous was probably one of the culinary delights listed in verse by Solon in the early 6th Century BC on the life of luxury. Sumac was certainly in use as a flavouring in Athenian kitchens by the 4th century BC. 6/n
Although the tree grows all over the Med area, it appears that preparation of its ground fruit as condiment & medicine was only done in Syria. Today we find it widely used in middle eastern cuisine, but curiously not so much in mainland Greece. Recently it made a comeback 7/n
Lovage was known to Dioscorides as a plant native to Liguria; whence its Greek name Ligystikon: Sour and aromatic to taste. Digestive. The local people use it in sauces. A herbal wine was made with it. Good with fish and pulse dishes. Was used for flavouring meat too... 8/n
Caraway: Karo, like lovage was used for flavouring meats. Its culinary use was its principal one.
Parsley: Petroselinon Makedonikon. It is first recorded in the 2nd century BC. It is this that gives it's name to parsley in modern Greek: Maidanos. 9/n
Rue: Another culinary herb that once was very popular, Ruta graveolens in now rarely used. This is a pity: Its unusual bitter flavour is still valuable in the kitchen, and it has had a great reputation as a medicinal herb. 10/n
It imparts a necessary bitterness to sweet and rich food and is well worth experiment with. Rue is a hardy evergreen that grows well in any soil. It is so easily grown that it rarity need not be insurmountable! 11/n
Pepper: The word peperi is of Indian origin -Sanskrit pippali- but in Indian language the word denotes the long pepper Piper Longum.This spice, rather unfamiliar now, was regularly imported to the classical Med, where the price of makropeperi was double that of black pepper.
Theophrastus describes it thus: "Pepper is a fruit and is of two kinds: one round like bitter vetch, with a shell and flesh like bay berries, reddish; the long kind with poppy-like seeds, and this is much stronger than the other. Both are heating." 13/n
Ginger: we first hear of ginger "zinzgiberi", in a Greek-speaking context when the Roman medical writer Celsus lists ginger as one of the ingredients in King Mithridates famous poison antidote. This would date the knowledge of ginger ...14/n
- at least among royal pharmacists in Pontus- to the early first century BC. In the following century Greek pharmacist Dioscorides of Anazarba says {and correctly distinguished ginger from pepper}: "Ginger is a separate plant, grown mostly in Eritrea and Arabia, 15/n
"...where they much use of it fresh, as we use leeks, boiling it for soup and including it in stews. It is a small tuber, like cyperus whitish, peppery in flavour and aromatic. Choose roots that are not worm-eaten. [...] 16/n
Some producers pickle it (otherwise it deteriorates) and export it in jars to Italy: it very nice to eat; it is eaten pickle and all."
Fenugreek: Fenugreek spread westwards in late classical time. Domesticated by the 4th millenium BC onwards in the Near East and Egypt. It had served as perfume. The fragrance is sweet and gentle. We have records of using it as a herb in veg stews mainly poorer people. 18/n
Juniper Berries: Two species of juniper berries, Arkeuthis and Kedrion served as medicines and exported in Egypt for culinary purposes from the 4th millennium BC. 19/n
We have of course references and recipes that used, thyme, nigella seeds, oregano, pennyroyal, mint, mustard leaves and seeds and saffron too... Anyway that's it for now! Here's a photo of Pork, Leek, and Apple stew with coriander and wine! Bon Apepit! 20/n
A favourite recipe of mine is vine leaves stuffed with pork mince and ginger and garlic, then fried in olive oil and served with a dipping sauce of honey, vinegar and wine reduction with godly #garum !
@TheAncientWorld @SeamusBlackley @FlintDibble @e_pe_me_ri @greekhistorypod @NeolithicSheep @PaulMMCooper @MikeStuchbery_ @AncientLitDude Let me know your thoughts, and if you spotted any inaccuracies! (esp with the Linear B)
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