Coriolanus Cookery – thinking out loud

I’m trying to figure out my menu for Sunday’s Shakespeare, and finding it unusually difficult (it doesn’t help that I’m a bit under the weather this week.  I actually have a really impressively revolting Shakespearean euphemism for my current condition, but I’m going to spare those of you who don’t already know it.  Believe me, you’d rather not know.).   Coriolanus is a Roman play, which gives me a nice, clear Roman theme, and I do have some excellent recipes along these lines… until you consider the fact that it’s going to be 31°C tomorrow and 33°C on Sunday, and if I do any baking at all, the house will be unbearable once we get 12 people around the table.

I’m leaning tentatively towards a Roman / Raw Food theme, which is going to be wildly inauthentic one way or another – if I try to stick to only ingredients that Romans would have had access to (with maybe a bit of fudging on the grounds that there was trade with parts of Africa and Asia), a lot of the Raw Food classics (agave nectar, coconut butter) are not really appropriate; and I’m fairly sure that pickled feta cheese doesn’t count as a raw food, either, though that won’t stop me.  For bonus points, I also need to work around allergies to nuts and onions among my guests, and of course the Romans absolutely love their onions and raw foodists love their nuts.  I’m pretty sure they do this to annoy me, though I do not have conclusive proof of this…

Anyway, the main purpose of this post was to write down some of my menu ideas before I went to bed, so…

– bread

– pickled feta, other more normal cheeses

– celery and olive paté, assorted cheese and herb and garlic purées from Roman cookbook.

– assorted vegetable crudités, but no capsicums or tomatoes.  Cured meats?    Maybe do Ligurian sausage recipe, but only if cool enough.  Ha.

– vine leaves stuffed with rice and goats cheese, if I can get them done early enough.

– fresh fruit: grapes, apricots, peaches, plums are all in season and authentic; may also find red or white currants, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, but these are all more expensive

– dried fruit balls: apricot with orange, fig with almond, possibly something wildly inauthentic involving dried cherries and coconut and cocoa butter, because I have cocoa butter, and these are highly un-roman ingredients but not actually New-World, so not 100% implausible

– yoghurt or curd cheese with vincotto, honey, cinnamon and pomegranate seeds (not actually a Roman recipe as far as I know, but I bet they had something like it)

– other dried fruit and nuts.  I wonder if I can make an apple and pine-nut and raisin cake?  Again, not officially Roman, but I’ll bet they ate things a lot like that.

This is all looking woefully inadequate, to be honest.  The savoury side needs at least one more reasonably filling / protein rich dish, which I will have to figure out tomorrow.  The sweet side needs something biscuity or cakey or both.  I may have to resort to buying things from the Italian bakery because I’m really not feeling up to my usual levels of Shakespeare culinary madness.  I may wind up doing random scones or cupcakes because they are easy.  I could proably justify anything that looks sufficiently red and bloody on the grounds of all the wars and the stabbing at the end of the play, but I’m really not in the mood just now.  Besides, my favourite really red food needs sheet gelatine, and I don’t know if I can get that on a Saturday…

Maybe things will look brighter in the morning?

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3 comments for “Coriolanus Cookery – thinking out loud

  1. February 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Ooooh! This all sounds incredible! Pickled feta?! Yes please! And I’m always up for dried fruit and nuts 🙂

    • February 4, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      I’ve been inspired by your various dried fruit and nut truffles, actually! There’s a perfectly good, authentic Roman recipe which is basically dried figs pounded into a paste and rolled in coriander seed. I figure this gives me a license to count any likely combinations of dried fruits and/or nuts and/or spices pounded together into pastes as Roman food, and I’ve been running with this theory…

      • February 4, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        Oh, that makes my soul fly, as I love not only my dried nut truffles (I’m duty bound to like them, having created them ‘n’ all), but Roman history and any kind of food history 🙂 In fact, you’ve made me want to go back and reread all my Steven Saylor Roman mystery novels 😛

        P.S. I love using usually- savoury spices and herbs in desserts, so coriander and fig is definitely something I’d try!

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