In the ancient Roman sources, sometimes we find Greek and Phoenician recipes, a testimony of the great influence on Roman cuisine by the other Mediterranean populations. Cato, in particular, wrote a few recipes with Greek names, for example placenta and epityrum. In this case, a Phoenician recipe, which he calls puls punica. As we have seen a few weeks ago, puls was one of the staple foods for the ancient Italic populations. This recipe shows an interesting exchange between cultures, in which an Italic food is prepared in a Phoenician way.
Puls punica is a simple recipe, as a consequence, the outcome may be very different depending on the ingredients you choose. It is fundamental using an excellent honey (Columella considers the best savory or thyme serpillum honey) and cheese (we suggest a fresh cow or goat cheese).
The author does not describe the method to cook the puls, just the ingredients. We infer it from another recipe of this book, granea triticea, which we prepared a few weeks ago, as well as the methods described by Pliny and Apicius.
Alica is a term which means husked spelt or a specific preparation from spelt. According to Pliny, spelt was pounded in a wooden mortar, sifted three times to obtain the various qualities of alica from the coarsest to the finest, and then whitened with gypsum.
We adjusted the amount of the ingredients suggested by the author reducing them to one-third and keeping the ratio. One ancient Roman pound (libra) weighs about 327 grams.
Below, you will find the method, the original text with our translation, and the video of the recipe with subtitles in English and Italian. Enjoy!
100 gr spelt
300 gr fresh cheese
50 gr honey
Pound a little the spelt in the mortar and steep it in water for a few hours. Cut the cheese and beat the egg. Overcook the spelt in abundant water for about 45 minutes, then add the cheese and honey. As soon as the cheese melts, add one-third of the beaten egg, stir for a few minutes, and remove the puls from the fire. Serve it warm.
Pultem Punicam sic coquito. Libram alicae in aquam indito, facito uti bene madeat. Id infundito in alveum purum, eo casei recentis P. III, mellis P. S, ovum unum, omnia una permisceto bene. Ita insipito in aulam novam.
Prepare in this way the puls Punica. Steep in water one pound of alica in such a way that it is well soaked. Pour it in a clean recipient mixing well with three pounds of fresh cheese, half a pound of honey, and one egg. Place the mixture in a new cooking vessel.
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