As of last week food writer Paul Zeissler was still working on the menu for A Roman Orgy of Food. The eighth in a series of historical and literary eating events at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore (past spreads included “Food on Campaign” and “Dining With the Saints”), the feast will offer food popular from 27 BC into the third century AD. The recipes are drawn from Apicius de re coquinaria, the Western world’s oldest extant cookbook, translated and edited by Joseph D. Vehling in 1926 and published in 1936 as Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome. (Vehling, a Latin scholar and chef, spent five years as catering manager at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel before he undertook this project.) Zeissler says the Romans were “hedonistic eaters”; he’s choosing his menu from delicacies like sow’s belly (“paps intact”), boiled ostrich, milk-fed snails, and stuffed dormouse. A sampling, not a full meal, it’ll be served with wine, coffee, and a one-hour lecture and discussion beginning at 7:30, Thursday, October 10, at the bookstore, 7419 W. Madison in Forest Park. It’s $10; call 708-771-7243 by October 8 to reserve a spot, as space is limited.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/courtesy Dover Publications.