Ancient Persian “Brunch”

This one was a real treat to prepare and to eat: a classic spread of Persian inspired dishes for a late breakfast that will also satisfy you through lunch and beyond.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s a literal translation in Farsi or any ancient Iranian language for “brunch”, but the classic early meal of an egg dish with lots of bread, and an assortment of spreads, jams, and garnishes to graze and pick over certainly fits any interpretation of the concept.

We’ve got a home cook’s version of classic SANGAK bread, cooked on hot pebbles to give it a grooved surface perfect for some sour plum and pomegranate jam, stewed figs and spices, and some freshly made KAYMAK, or what the English call clotted cream. To balance those sweet flavors, we’ve got some salty and briny garnishes on the side, as well as a a dish called NARGESI, a sort of frittata made from fried greens and onions.

Continue reading “Ancient Persian “Brunch””

Roman Saturnalia Sweets Plate

It’s Christmas time!  The true meaning of the holiday is complicated, and always has been, thanks to its mix and match ancient origins (yes, before the birth of Jesus).

Even though that famous nativity scene is the official reason for the holiday, many of the activities and traditions we practice at Christmastime come from much older customs celebrating the winter solstice.  Decorated trees, gift giving, holly, mistletoe, caroling, and much more all have ancient, B.C. origins, and were later folded into the Christian celebration.

No ancient holiday influenced Christmas more than the Roman Saturnalia. The actual date of Jesus’s birth is unknown, but in the 4th Century A.D., Pope Julius I declared it to officially be December 25th.  Many speculate that this was to Christianize Saturnalia, a holiday that many in Medieval Europe still celebrated despite the fading out of Rome.

Saturnalia was known for gift giving, charity, and above all, feasting and merriment! So to celebrate, I dug into Apicius for some dulcia, or sweets recipes, to make a dessert plate worthy of both a festive Roman noble, and a  chef and amateur historian thousands of years later.

 

“Roman” Toast, Stuffed candied dates, and fresh cheese with honey! Continue reading “Roman Saturnalia Sweets Plate”