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Apicio and his culinary art of ancient Rome

The history of cooking is as ancient as the world and the origin of the interpreters of the culinary art is hard to spot.

But we can lead back to the Roman Empire; to the one who most of all distinguished himself for his work as a chef: we are speaking about Marcus Gavius Apicius. For everyone, simply Apicius.

Chef, but without stars; foodblogger; but without internet; masterchef, but without judges or tv: Apicio is one of the leading (and most controversial) figures in the cooking history. And it is for two reasons: he is the author of the first cookbook ever created, De Re Coquinaria; the creativity and imagination he put in the kitchen were and still are inimitable.

http://www.lib.k-state.edu/, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Tongue of peacock, uterus of sow and meats of ostriches and parrots served with dried fruit and spices: dishes definetely extreme and of doubtful taste, but which however conquered also the Emperor Tiberius. The talent of Apicio fit well with the empire’s ability to find any kind of ingredient from the vast regions of which it was composed, which gave ample space to the Roman chef to experiment with flavors.

Some of his brilliant insights were collected in the aforementioned De Re Coquinaria, a recipe book that seems the union of two volumes conceived distinctly. Divided into ten chapters, the cookbook crosses all fields of the kitchen: from the creation of the perfect sauce, to the preparation of a tasty fish, to the use of cheese, vegetables, legumes and the treatment of minced meat. Today many of the two recipes would be impossible to replicate, because of the unavailability of some raw materials: as the silphium, a plant now extinct, from whose root Apicio made irresistible fish balls.

Apicio loved the kitchen deeply, so much that it is said that he ended up in ruin after spending all his possessions in the search for delicious raw materials. It is impossible to deny the curiosity of knowing how would he move today in a kitchen Concreta, where style and design would be functional to the creation of who knows what strange but tasty delicacy.