This is one delicacy and exotic food that the Romans had enjoyed and feasted on during the time period. The ostrich would take an enormous effort to cook back then, because it's sheer size, and the lack of cooking material to hold the ostrich. Back then, Romans used to cook by using fired coal to heat up meat inside of a brick hearth. They had frying pans made of bronze, but they never cut the ostrich up. Instead they would just put the whole ostrich into the hearth.
The ingredients that the Romans used were:
- 500 grams ostrich chunks
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 300 milliliters passum (dessert wine)
- 1 tablespoon roast cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 3 pitted candied dates
- 3 tablespoons garum (50 kilograms of tinned anchovies can serve as a substitute)
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons strong vinegar
The more modern way people cook Ostrich Ragout today is
- Make a roux out of the flour and one tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the passum, and stir the sauce until it is smooth.
- Using a pestle and mortar, pound together in the following order: cumin, celery seeds, dates, garum, peppercorns, fresh chopped mint, the rest of the olive oil, honey, and, lastly, the vinegar. Add all this to the thickening sauce.
- Stir in the ostrich chunks and let them cook through in the sauce.
Many Romans would usually eat the Ostrich or include in a dish called Pottage, which is a stew that consists of various meats, wheat, corn, and barley. Ostrich Ragout was not a common sight, because Romans did not eat very large meals that included meat, so the only time Ostrich Ragout would usually be seen would be in big or royal feasts, either in lunch, but more commonly in dinner.
The tuna itself is roasted in the pan or grill with the vinaigrette.
for the vinaigrette
3 tablespoons strong vinegar
2 tablespoons garum, or vinegar with anchovy paste
9 tablespoons olive oil
4 finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lovage seeds
25g fresh mint
Put all of the vinaigrette ingredients into a jar and shake well to blend them together.
Brush your tuna fillets with oil, pepper and salt, then grill them on one side over a hot barbecue. Turn them and brush the roasted side with the vinaigrette. Repeat. The tuna flesh should be pink inside so don't let it overcook. Serve with the remains of the vinaigrette.
The Tuna was generally served with a sauce and was eaten for the primary course of the dinner.
The salad is for the appetizer of the meal and can be served first of the general 3 course dinner.
A wonderful salad, unusual for the lack of salt (perhaps the cheese was salty enough), and that Columella crushes the ingredients in the mortar.
100g fresh mint (and/or pennyroyal)
50g fresh coriander
50g fresh parsley
1 small leek
a sprig of fresh thyme
200g salted fresh cheese
Follow Columella's method for this salad using the ingredients listed.
In other salad recipes Columella adds nuts, which might not be a bad idea with this one.
Apart from lettuce and rocket many plants were eaten raw—watercress, mallow, sorrel, goosefoot, purslane, chicory, chervil, beet greens, celery, basil and many other herbs.
Pine Nut Tart
This was usually served as the third meal in a three meal course and pine nuts were a very popular snack in the time. Many Romns would usually eat fruits for dessert, but this was definitely more of a delicacy. Honey went on a lot of desserts such as this one.
400g crushed nuts—almonds, walnuts or pistachios
200g pine nuts
100ml dessert wine
100ml full-fat sheep's milk
1 teaspoon salt or garum
Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas 9.
Place the chopped nuts and the whole pine nuts in an oven dish and roast until they have turned golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Mix the honey and the wine in a pan and bring to the boil, then cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the nuts and pine nuts to the honey and leave it to cool. Beat the eggs with the milk, salt or garum and pepper. Then stir the honey and nut mixture into the eggs. Oil an oven dish and pour in the nut mixture. Seal the tin with silver foil and place it in roasting tin filled about a third deep with water. Bake for about 25 minutes until the pudding is firm. Take it out and when it is cold put it into the fridge to chill. To serve, tip the tart on to a plate and pour over some boiled honey.
Romans watered wine for many reasons. Alcohol acted as an antibacterial agent and clean water was hard to come by so they used wine to make the water clean. Also water could be a way to get the Romans less drunk.
How They Ate
Many adults ate laying on slopes of couches around a square table and only children were permitted to sit. The slaves would often wash the guest's hands in between meals.
Marcus Gavius Apicius, who lived in the first century AD, was as fine an embodiment of Rome’s insatiable excess as any of his fellow citizens. While some men gained infamy for wanton cruelty or feats of courage, Apicius came to be known as Rome’s most prodigious glutton, with Pliny calling him “the most riotous glutton and bellie-god of his time". He created the dish Ostrich Ragout and is still recognized for his dishes today.