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Monday, December 13, 2010

Holy Globuli, Batman: A lesson in Ancient Roman cooking

Sarah is taking Latin this year as a fourth grader.  Our school ascribes to the classical education method which includes, obviously, everyone taking Latin for a number of years beginning in fourth grade. 

When she came home with an extra credit project to make a dish (and write about their experience in making it) that they might have had in Ancient Rome for the Saturnalia celebration, I knew that this was right up our alley.

As I began to search for recipes on the internets, I came across this squidoo page that had several recipes on it.  Among those was Globuli, which is what Sarah ultimately chose to make and write about.

This is the recipe we followed as stated on the squidoo page liked above:


Curd cheese (or Ricotta), 500 g or about 1lb 
1 cup semolina
olive oil

Press curd cheese through sieve or let it hang in cheese cloth until it's drained well. Mix with the semolina into a loose dough. Let it sit for a few hours.

With wet hands form the mixture into dumplings. Quickly fry them in olive oil for a few minutes. Drain and roll in honey.


We talked a lot as we worked about the types of conditions the Ancient Romans would have cooked in.  We talked about how they wouldn’t have had refrigeration and that their ingredients would have all been basically room temperature.  We also discussed that they wouldn’t have had precise measuring cups and tools and figured that they would have “eyeballed” most of their ingredients.  We tried to use very simple tools, but did break down and use the spring loaded scoop to help measure out the balls of the dough.  

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Here is her write-up (exactly as she wrote it):

“I opened the lid to the ricotta.  It was cold so we heated it up for 35 seconds in the microwave.  They did not have refrigreaters so their ingredients would be room temp.  We then let it set a while and then mixed it up with semolina, semolina was a flower made with wheat from Italy.  It looked good, but we had to wait a few hours.

Next I wet my hands and put some dough in my hand.  I rolled it around into a smooth ball.  After I made them all I started to put in hot olive oil to fry them.  After that I put them on a sheet to drain the oil.  Then I stirred them in honey.  Then I put them on a plate.  I tried on, and it was yummy.  I had a good time.”

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Mike and I each tasted a bite and it tasted a little bit like a hush-puppie. 


So here’s to Ancient Roman cooking.  Very few ingredients and simple tools.  But I’ll take refrigeration and a spring loaded scoop any day of the week and twice on Sunday.