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Cato\'s recipes
#1
I have been wanting to try some of Cato's recipes for a long time. Because I'm completely inexperienced and not much of a cook I thought I'd try his recipe for libum, which is nice and simple.

Quote:Recipe for libum: Bray 2 pounds of cheese thoroughly in a mortar; when it is thoroughly macerated, add 1 pound of wheat flour, or, if you wish the cake to be more dainty, 1/2 pound of fine flour, and mix thoroughly with the cheese. Add 1 egg, and work the whole well. Pat out a loaf, place on leaves, and bake slowly on a warm hearth under a crock.

But I've immediately run into a problem. What kind of cheese should I use? I see modern versions of this recipe say ricotta, but I don't know where this comes from. I know some people make their own Roman cheese, but I don't want to get too fancy until I figure out what I'm doing.

Are there any suggestions of a cheese I can buy to use in this recipe?
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#2
After my experiment I have come to the conclusion that libum tastes terrible.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#3
Which cheese did you go for? And why was it terrible??
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#4
You might want to try feta, it should work better with that.

Ah yes, and dont forget the oil... even though he does not mention it...

Its the same with falernian wine.... would you really sail out to sea a few miles to drop an amphora into it and with that water make the wine ?

M.VIB.M.
Bushido wa watashi no shuukyou de gozaru.

Katte Kabuto no O wo shimeyo!

H.J.Vrielink.
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#5
Ricotta is thoroughly ancient, and is surely one of the cheeses that the people in ancient times made. [note: not spoken as a historian, but someone who has made a few cheeses'] Ricotta is made from the nearly clear liquid (whey) that is left after making Mozzarella, for example, from whole milk. I won't send a recipe for the cheese, but it's easy to find. Some minor equipment is needed, a few supplies and a couple of tools, but all are available from ordinary food and cookware sources. Probably, you have some of these already in your kitchen. Be sure you have a GOOD thermometer to monitor the temperature of the liquids. That's pretty important for all sorts of specific cooking.

That cheese should be available at your grocery store, so you could experiment with commercial stuff first....
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#6
I used ricotta. 95% of the places I looked suggested it. What sealed the deal was an Italian blog that quite impressively broke down the Latin language in the recipe. (For instance, it thought libum was made in smaller rolls because they were called "tastes.") It suggested ricotta.

Perhaps "terrible" is too strong a term, but it certainly didn't taste good. It tasted a bit like flour-flavoured ricotta, which makes perfect sense if you look at the ingredients and their proportions to each other. They didn't look very appetising either. My wife declined to even taste one. :lol:

I noticed that in most of the modern versions they add some ingredients. Even the big Italian commentary added salt to its recipe. Many also cut down the amount of cheese and increase the amount of flour.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#7
To me, ricotta is almost tasteless. But layer it between spicy marinara sauce, mozzarella and lasagna noodles and you've got something!

OK, OK. A little salt might bring out a flavor, or maybe some dried oregano or basil. Is it Cato's recipe? Probably not, but it's sure the Romans used spices in cooking, and all recipes are modified everywhere at the whim or taste of the cook.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#8
The next one of Cato's recipes I tried was the savillium, which is basically the libum with honey and poppy seeds. I liked this much better. The contrast in taste between the honey and the "flour-flavoured ricotta" is actually quite good.

This one is recommended!
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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