Four tasty treats from Ancient Rome to celebrate ROME REMASTERED

Total War: ROME

Ben Barrett
May 17 2021

Looking to live the life of a Roman, or just a tad hungry today? Well, look no further. With the release of Total War: ROME REMASTERED, we partnered with Max Miller of Tasting History to create a series of videos preparing traditional Roman cuisine – from drinks of the legionnaires to whole pigs. He also kindly provided the recipes and instructions to make them, so below you can see each video and brief text on how to make what was featured. We also spoke to Max yesterday about Tasting History, Total War, and how it all ties together

Posca

Posca was the drink of the Roman Legionnaire; it’s essentially water and vinegar but there are some descriptions that, when used medicinally, included herbs. There is no ‘recipe’ per se, unfortunately. We’d recommend watching the video if you’re interested in making it yourself, as well as learning what it was like to be a Roman Legionnaire.

Pisam Vitellianam Sive Fabam

(Vitellian Peas)

This is a recipe from Apicius, a 2000-year-old Roman cookbook. It’s named after the Emperor Aulus Vitellius who, while only Emperor for a short time, lived a fascinating life and was a very controversial figure. He spent much time in non-Italian parts of the Empire including Parthia, Judea, and Armenia. 

Recipe:

  • Boil the peas or beans, stir until smooth.  
  • Pound pepper, lovage, ginger; and over the spices put yolks of hard-boiled eggs, 3oz. honey, liquamen, wine, and vinegar.  
  • Put all this, including the pisces which you have pounded, in the saucepan.  
  • Add oil and bring to a boil. Season the peas with this.  
  • Stir until smooth if lumpy.  
  • Add honey and serve. 

Porcellum Assum Tractomelinum

(Roast Sucking-Pig with Tracta and Honey)

The main recipe comes again from Apicius, but the recipe for tracta comes from Cato the Elder’s De Agricultura, the oldest surviving work of Latin prose.

Recipe for the pig:

  • Clean the pig and gut through the neck, dry.  
  • Grind an ounce of pepper, honey, wine, let it heat.  
  • Break dried tracta and mix into the pot gradually.  
  • Stir with a sprig of green bay, cook until it becomes smooth and thick.  
  • Fill the piglet with this stuffing, tie up, cover with paper, place in an oven, arrange and serve. 

Recipe for tracta:

  • Soak some groats in water, and after they have sat a while and softened, drain them and put them into a bowl.  
  • After kneading them for some time, gradually add some flour and make a dough. 
  • Make the tracta from this dough, spread them out, and let them dry. 

Placenta

Cato the Elder’s Placenta is an early cheesecake. For all the mysteries of why in the world it’s called that, you’ll have to watch the video.

Recipe:

  • Materials 
    • 2 pounds of wheat flour for the crust.
    • 4 pounds of flour and 2 pounds of prime groats for the tracta.  
  • Soak the groats in water, and when it becomes quite soft, pour into a clean bowl, drain well, and knead with the hand. 
  • When it is thoroughly kneaded, work in the 4 pounds of flour gradually.  
  • From this dough make the tracta, and spread them out in a basket where they can dry; then arrange evenly.  
  • Treat each tractum as follows: after kneading, brush them with an oiled cloth, wipe them all over and coat with oil.  
  • When the tracta are moulded, heat thoroughly the hearth where you are to bake, and the crock. 
  • Then moisten the 2 pounds of flour, knead, and make of it a thin lower crust.  
  • Soak 1 ¾ pounds of sheep’s cheese (sweet and quite fresh) in water and macerate, changing the water three times.  
  • Take out a small quantity at a time, squeeze out the water thoroughly with the hands, and when it is quite dry place it in a bowl.  
  • When you have dried out the cheese completely, knead it in a clean bowl by hand, and make it as smooth as possible.  
  • Then, take a clean flour sifter and force the cheese through it into the bowl. Add 4½ pounds of fine honey and mix it thoroughly with the cheese.  
  • Spread the crust on a clean board, one foot wide, on oiled bay leaves, and form the placenta as follows:  
    • Place a first layer of separate tracta over the whole crust, cover it with the mixture from the bowl, add the tracta one by one, covering each layer until you have used up all the cheese and honey.  
    • On the top place a single tracta, and then fold over the crust and prepare the hearth.
    • Then place the placenta, cover with a hot crock, and heap coals on top and around.  
  • See that it bakes thoroughly and slowly, uncovering two or three times to examine it. When it is done, remove and spread with honey. 

We can’t thank Max enough for his Rome month as part of celebrating ROME REMASTERED. Do subscribe to his channel, and let us know which of the above takes your fancy.