Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Patina de Persicis -- A Dish of Peaches (Roman Empire)

I'm enjoying the book The Roman Cookery of Apicius by John Edwards.  It has a variety of recipes "translated and adapted for the Modern Kitchen" and that suits me just fine.  Mr. Edwards has made the adaptations very accessible for the 21st century, including his version of "fish-pickle", which is made from canned tuna or salmon (as opposed to the liquamen mentioned in this post).

ISBN 0-88179-008-7
Today I played with two different recipes to make dinner:  Patina de Persicis (A Dish of Peaches) and Vitellina Fricta (Fried Veal Steak).  I am presenting the results of the peaches recipe today and will follow up with the Vitellina next month.

The Roman version is simple (page 84):

Take peaches which have a firm texture and wash them.  Cut them into pieces and stew.  Put the peaches into a dish and sprinkle a few drops of olive oil over them.  Season with cumin, and serve.

Mr. Edward's version is also simple (page 83):

Take early peaches, wash, cut them in quarters, and remove pits.  Steam in water until soft.  Drain, reserve liquid, and put them in a cooking pot with a little of the peach liquid, a few drops of olive oil, and cumin to taste.  Simmer gently for a few minutes and serve hot.

It is not peach season right now but I really wanted to try this recipe.  So my version is simpler still:

Peaches Cooked with Cumin

Two cans sliced peaches, in light syrup or juice
Olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin

That's all!
Drain peaches; reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid.  Place the peaches into a small pan.

Mix the reserved liquid, four drops olive oil, and cumin in a small bowl.

Pour over peaches and stir gently so as not to break up the pieces.

They should not be swimming in liquid.
Over medium heat, bring peaches and liquid to a gentle simmer.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 - 10 minutes, until steaming hot all the way through.  Stir occasionally.

Remove peaches with a slotted spoon.  Add just a little of the liquid to the peaches in their serving dish.  Serve immediately.

Served with even less liquid in which they were cooked.
My Notes

This was my version of the recipe, so what you see above are my notes.  My canned peaches were in light syrup, so I worried that they might be too sweet.   I served the peaches with a slotted spoon so the liquid wouldn't spill all over the plate.  I served it as a side dish to the meat main course.

That dark stuff is the Vitellina
The Verdict

This was a big hit!  The cumin shifts the flavor to savory rather than sweet and that made it an excellent side dish.  One teaspoon of cumin was very good -- it was subtle and yet still noticeable and just a little spicy on the tongue.  My guest tasters and I (three in total) ate them all.  For more than three people, you will need to double the recipe, at least.

Success!  We all wanted more and I would make it again without hesitation.

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