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The Classical Cookbook [Hardcover]

Andrew Dalby , Sally Grainger
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 5 1996 Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum
The daily life of classical Greece and Rome, although separated from us by 2000 years, can be recreated in almost photographic detail. The Classical Cookbook is the first book of its kind, exploring the daily culture of the Mediterranean through the center of its social life--food and drink. Combining narrative texts and recipes, authors Dalby and Grainger draw on a mass of fascinating resources to describe household life for different social groups and occasions. Each chapter provides a historical outline, with translations of the original recipes followed by versions for the modern cook. The book is illustrated throughout with delightful scenes of food, hunters, and revelers from wall paintings, mosaics, and Greek vases. And the array of delicacies, from Sweet Wine Scones to Chicken Stuffed with Olives to Honey Nut Cake, is sure to tempt any connoisseur.

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The Classical Cookbook combines carefully researched history with recipes that are interpretations of ancient Greece and Rome. Two Britons, historian Andrew Dalby and chef Sally Grainger, collaborated on this book, which discusses the banquets and feasts of Athens and Rome, but focuses mostly on how average people ate every day. Many of the seasonings favored from around 700 B.C. up to the fall of Rome in the 5th century, it turns out, are not that foreign to what we use today: leeks, nuts, vinegar, wine. The authors provide easy equivalents for the more exotic ingredients. Imagine how Socrates, in the 1st century, may have enjoyed honey-glazed shrimp or cheesecake. Such dishes make it tempting to try the culinary adaptations of classical cookery. Here's a rare example of history brought to life.

About the Author


Andrew Dalby is librarian of the London House for Overseas Graduates and has written for numerous food history and classics journals. Sally Grainger is a professional pastry chef and regularly organizes Roman banquets.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Resource to Recreating Ancient Cuisine Sept. 26 2007
Format:Hardcover
Dalby provides a wonderful balance of recipies and history in this collection. It is wonderful to have well thought-out decoding and interpretations of recipies from Apicius, Cato and others. There is good discussion on ancient ingredients, some substitions and suggestions on how to obtain them. The recipies are easy to follow with practical suggestions and I have been very pleased with the results--meals even my children have enjoyed.
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Format:Hardcover
Excellent book for both its recipes (easy to follow with directions given for both the English and American cook) and its description of Roman life, for both the Roman commoners and the citizens of stature. If you want to have a Roman banquet, or a simple, traditional Roman meal, this is an ideal book. I especially enjoyed the well-written sections on Roman history, which perfectly integrate the recipes with what we know about the people's lives and the ingredients which were available to them. I looked at every Roman cookbook I could find, in both the USA and England, and my three favorites are: Classical Cookbook, by Dalby and Grainger, and, A Taste of Ancient Rome, by Ilaria Giacosa, and Roman Cookery, by Mark Grant. The latter two have more recipes than the first, but Classical Cookbook is a quality book with exquisite pictures, illustrations and explanations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely combination of recipes and historical information April 25 2001
By M. Gacsaly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Excellent book for both its recipes (easy to follow with directions given for both the English and American cook) and its description of Roman life, for both the Roman commoners and the citizens of stature. If you want to have a Roman banquet, or a simple, traditional Roman meal, this is an ideal book. I especially enjoyed the well-written sections on Roman history, which perfectly integrate the recipes with what we know about the people's lives and the ingredients which were available to them. I looked at every Roman cookbook I could find, in both the USA and England, and my three favorites are: Classical Cookbook, by Dalby and Grainger, and, A Taste of Ancient Rome, by Ilaria Giacosa, and Roman Cookery, by Mark Grant. The latter two have more recipes than the first, but Classical Cookbook is a quality book with exquisite pictures, illustrations and explanations.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent July 29 2011
By Cosmas Bisticas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Fifteen years after it's original release this book remains one of the best on the subject. I would like to clarify that, as the authors point out through references to Odysseus, Philoxennus, Macedonia etc. it explains very cleary that the Greeks were those who elevated cookery into an art,through trial and error and endless experimentation. It focuses primarily on techniques and recipes that originated in ancient Greecemuch later to be passed on to ancent Rome. I make this point as a reviwer has incorrectly given the impression that the book focuses primarily on Roman cookery. One might argue that they at that time in history they were one in the same as Romans brought Greek slaves and free Greek cooks to prepare their meals for them ultimately consuming the same dishes. Over time, the simple dishes introduced by the Greeks became more complicated and lavish, an evolution that has continued till today. There are several other books available that cover this period in detail.

Having made the above points, the author has done an excellent job in the first 30 pages of the book to explain the intricacies of the recipes that follow, explaining the ingredients used, where to find them and substitutions that can be made in order to get an approximate idea of what the Ancient Greeks and later the Romans enjoyed at their tables. It is a good read regardless if you plan to execute the recipes or not.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try the Roman Mushrooms June 1 2010
By Rebecca Menes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An excellent historic cook book. Solid history. Author is careful with the reconstructions, explaining what is known, and what is inferred, for each recipe. And the recipes are good. I especially like the mushrooms with fish sauce and honey. Try it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice book for a history of the first foods Feb. 23 2012
By D B Crisp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I probably enjoyed the history rather than the recipes as they can be quiet unusual to first time tasters. There are lots of strong flavours with wine, wine vinegar and fish sauce in many recipes, sometimes offset by the sweetness of honey or figs. It makes more of a conversational dining experience rather than gourmet food. But the results are quite nice and have been adapted to modern palates and techniques well.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Recipes Oct. 18 2011
By brains4zombies - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I got this recipe book for an ancient mythology class I was taking in college. My final project was to make an ancient meal. The meal turned out pretty well and I would use a good amount of the recipes.
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