The Journal of Culinary Arts

Wednesday 23/3/2005

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Diary and Notes

Salve! (Again)

Yes, I am having another go at ancient Roman cuisine from the cookbook of Apicius, or at least some slightly adapted recipes along the lines of the our ancient gastronomer. Today it's an ancient Roman pork dish, some butter beans in herbs and a sweet and spicy squash, plus a honey omelette to finish. Who else on the entire planet has such a glorious and varied diet as me?

All this experimenting with recipes ancient and modern has made me wonder why cooking isn't studied more as an academic subject. Why don't universities offer a B.A. in the history of cooking for instance? Why aren't there cookery research groups along the lines of chemistry and biology research labs, experimenting with new flavours and sensations? (I'm not talking about industry labs where the main concern is squeezing out more profit for their employers by finding new ways to preserve food and pump in more additives to get longer shelf lives for their toxic blends)

I am not suggesting some Mickey Mouse type degree here but a real academic endeavour. Almost every university in Britain has a fine arts department and people come to study fine art and the history of art, why not cooking?

Why is there no academic journal about the culinary arts? It could be called something snappy like the Journal of Culinary Arts - that would be good. (I might actually start one up - I need another useless hobby to waste hours of my valuable time). I shall write articles in long winded and pretentious academic prose entitled; "The history of curry: From Ancient Persia to 21st Century Bradford" and "Musings on the cultural impact of the kitchens of Sultan Mehmet II."

I've just done a search on Google for the Journal of Culinary arts and have located a journal called The Journal of Culinary Science and Technology - somebody is actually producing one. Sadly the links for a free pdf download don't work and even the abstracts aren't available so I have no idea if it's crap or not. I might send them an article on something stupid anyway and see what they say - I shall keep you informed..


Notes on today's excellent dinner:

One of the ingredient problems from my previous Roman cooking attempt (celery seeds - see 1/3/2005) was solved when I stumbled upon a little health food shop selling all manner of herbs in little bags (for medicinal uses) and managed to buy some celery seeds and some aniseed as well - all for less then 50p. I still had to substitute Thai fish sauce for garum and I didn't have any pumpkin so used butternut squash instead, but apart from this it was all pretty realistic ingredients-wise.

I did fiddle with the actual cooking methods a little. The pork recipe said to steep some figs in hot water then when the water was coloured throw the figs away and just use the liquid. This seemed a mighty waste of good figs to me and I didn't stick to this part of the recipe - I shall be nice and regular in the morning no doubt. I've also tinkered a bit with the method of cooking things generally - mostly to simplify the preparation, and the quantities were more what I assumed would work, rather than as advised.

Overall it was a mighty tasty dinner. The pork was sweet and sour though, not in the way that you might get in a Chinese restaurant, the butter beans were very good, though I would recommend using only a dash of fish sauce, but the squash was the real treat. This is perhaps the best recipe for squash I have ever tried. I made a mistake whilst cooking it, the original recipe said that the ginger was supposed to go in the squash, not the butter beans, but I got it the wrong way around (and I think it enhanced the beans somewhat) - no matter though, I would advise everyone to have a go at this squash recipe and serve it as you would squash normally. if you are American, have it with roast turkey on thanksgiving, if your some jumper wearing hippy, have it with some brown rice and lentils, if you are me, have it with a nice piece of pork - either way, it will be just gorgeous.

Cake Blog

The honey omelette was today's sweet treat and quite tasty it was too.


  • Pork in Piquant Sauce
  • Butter Beans in Herb Sauce
  • Alexandrine Squash

  • Honey Omelette


    Pork in Piquant Sauce
    150g Pork Leg
    3 Dried Figs
    250ml White Wine
    1/2 tsp Coriander
    1/2 tsp Oregano
    Squirt Lemon Juice
    Dash Wine Vinegar
    Pinch Salt
    Olive Oil (For Frying)
    Butter Beans in Herb Sauce
    100g Butter Beans
    1/3 Medium Sized Leek
    100ml White Wine
    Dash Wine Vinegar
    Fresh Basil
    Fresh Coriander
    Pinch Aniseed
    Pinch Celery Seed
    Olive Oil (For Frying)
    Thai Fish Sauce
    Alexandrine Squash
    1/3 Butternut Squash
    4 Dried Dates
    5 Blanched Almonds
    1/4 tsp Mint Sauce
    Dash Cider Vinegar
    tsp Honey
    100 ml White Wine
    100 ml vegetable Stock
    1/4 tsp Coriander Powder
    1/4 tsp Cumin Powder
    Honey Omelette
    2 Eggs
    Olive Oil (For Frying)
    Black Pepper
    Tbsp Honey


  • Pork: Chop the figs (discarding any stalks or woody bits) and pour over a little boiling water (25ml) and leave to soften. Dice the pork into bite sized chunks and fry in a little olive oil until starting to brown. To the figs add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Pour over the pork, turn the heat down and allow to bubble away and reduce. When the pork is soft and the liquid has almost all evaporated and a thick sauce has developed it is ready.
  • Beans: Slice the leek and fry in a little oil with the celery seed, aniseed and a few strips of fresh ginger. When the leeks are soft, add a dash of wine vinegar and the wine. Mince the fresh herbs and add to the pan, season with (a little) fish sauce.
  • Squash: Peel and chop the squash into 1cm cubes. Boil for a few minutes in water until nearly soft then drain. Chop the dates and crush the almonds, then place the squash, dates and almonds in a pan with all the other ingredients. Simmer gently until the squash is really tender and the sauce has begun to thicken.
  • Omelette: Make a simple omelette with some pepper in the mix. Roll the omelette when cooked and cut into thin strips. Drizzle the honey over and eat.

    *All quantities are very approximate and for a single person