Cena Romana

Wall Painting from Pompeii

Last Saturday night my Hadrian’s Wall hiking group got together for a Roman feast potluck. We dined well on dishes based on ancient Roman recipes adapted in the book, The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger.

Our menu included:

Honeyed White Wine

Garlic Cheese with Bread


Parthian Chicken

Shoulder of Pork with Sweet Wine Cakes

Barley with Figs

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Patina of Nuts

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake with Cream (not Roman but very good)

Figs and Dates

We began our dinner by mingling over the Honeyed Wine aperitif, which was sweet, peppery and surprisingly very good, followed by the very, very garlicky and very popular Garlic Cheese.

The Shoulder of Pork with Sweet Wine Cakes recipe included a barley and fig side dish which was also a surprise hit. When discussing our experience with the recipes, we decided honey and wine were prominent ingredients in most of them. Fortunately there weren’t too many ingredients we couldn’t source, although I failed to get any rue for my red wine sauce so I am not sure how it was really meant to taste.

Not having the space for dining couches nor the slaves to serve the dishes, we dined as poorer Romans might by sitting on chairs and stools. Nor were there any dancing girls for after dinner entertainment but I did my best to bore (I mean amuse) my guests with a slideshow lecture on Roman life along Hadrian’s Wall.


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