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I agree that, if you consider the codified cooking of the courts and the rich people, you can hardly find the way that connects the Roman imperial cooking with the Rinascimental cooking and the modern "French-style" cooking.
Those cookings were (and are!) influenced by many factors like the availability of exotic and expensive ingredients, the wish to amaze the guests with something unusual or to demonstrate the host's economic power.

But the things are different when you speak of the popular, everyday cooking! Many ancient recipes can be followed from the Roman repubblican age to the Imperial and then, through the Middle age (mainly through the Monastery cooking) and the Renaissance, up to the regional cooking of our days. I'm speaking about Italy, but suppose that it may be the same in a larger Mediterranean area.
Obviously, the discovery of America with all its "new" foods and, more recently, the possibility of keeping better the food refrigerating it (and not spicing, drying or salting it) have deeply modified also the popular cooking...but, if you look at the Italian regional cooking, it's surprising how many recipes are, in the substance, the same of other Roman and medieval recipes.

I have already posted something about the vegetable pies, Moretum and so on...but this is only an example.

Mirepoix man said something about the primitive Lasagna quoted by Apicius. It was the Lagana or Laganum, which name itself is clearly the ancestor of the word Lasagna, and which survives in some Southern Italian dialects.
According to Apicius (and to the frescoes found in some Etruscan tombs in Cerveteri) it was made working the flour with water, rolling it up with a rolling pin and cutting it with a knife or a Pasta wheel.
However, there is a substantial difference between the Laganae and the Lasagne...laganae were fried and not boiled! No doubt the result must have been totally different from our Pasta.....

....BUT, they were probably almost the same of the "Gnocco Fritto" or "Crescentina", a typical food of Emilia Romagna which is made of a very simple dough (white wheat flour, a pinch of salt, the necessary water) rolled up, cut in lozenges, deep fried in oil or lard, and served hot with fresh cheese or Culatello. My grandma made a wonderful Gnocco Fritto!

Add to this dough sugar and eggs, cut in stripes, fry again, and you'll get the "Bugie" or "Chiacchiere" or "Sfrappole"...the Carnival sweet we spoke about in the "Italian Easter" thread, which is widely diffused in all the Italian regions.

Another example? Ancient Romans loved the pulses, and their most typical pulse soup, the Ptisana, made with barley, lentils, chickpeas and green peas, seems to be very similar to the Mesciua, a soup made in La Spezia.

More...the Roman people used to eat fresh goat and sheep cheese, a round unleavened bread similar to the Piadina Romagnola (named "Pista"...does this word suggest anything to you?), salted olives, boiled chickpeas or pumpkin or cabbage. Their Pultes must have been almost the same than our Polenta.

The Basyma was a sweet not so different from the Italian "Pandolce" which exists, with slight differences, in many regions...This is the recipe:

BASYMA

Ingredients, serve 6

-6 oz White wheat flour
-8 oz butter
-10 oz honey
-4 oz dried figs
-2 eggs
-Kernels of 20 walnuts

Cut the figs in small pieces and the nut kernels. Work the butter with a spoon until creamy. Add the honey and work again until smooth. Add the eggs and beat well the mixture. Add the flour and work again until very soft. Finally add the nuts and figs. Pour the mixture into a plumcake mould, buttered and coated with flour. Bake at 350° for 45 mins. Cool it down, put it out of shape and serve.

Does this cake remind you something?
The discussion is open!:)

Pongi
 
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