Wednesday, July 21, 2004

New Cookbook of Ancient Recipes

"'The Philosopher's Kitchen: Recipes From Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook' by Francine Segan (Random House, scheduled for publication early August, $35).

Among the pleasing insider details revealed in this book are that it was the ancient Egyptians who taught the Greeks how to knead bread with their feet.

We learn that Archestratus, 4th-century B.C. bon vivant and early grill maven, declared that steak is best right 'off the spit while it is still a bit on the rare side,' and Alexander the Great was so convinced of the health benefits of apples that he ate them at every meal. It seems that the ancient Greeks used a disarming phrase, 'salt and bean friends,' to identify very close pals with whom you were happy to share the most simple food.

Among the recipes that have been updated is Pythagoras' refreshing dish of cucumbers with raisin-coriander vinaigrette; an herbed olive puree from Cato, Roman orator and statesman; and Roman cookbook writer Apicius' veal chops with quince and leeks."
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