4th-century BCE Kandaulos – A recipe by Hegesippus of Tarentum


As we have seen in the past, Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists is a precious source of information about food in the Antiquity. This week we are preparing the kandaulos by Hegesippus of Tarentum, who lived in the 4th century BCE. According to Athenaeus, the kandaulos is a typical Lydian food, for which there are, indeed, three variants, one of which sweet, prepared with milk, honey, starch, and cheese as writes Pollux in the Onomastikon. The other version, instead, is described by Hesychius, who writes in the Lexicon that kandylos it is made with honey, milk, cheese, and hare meat.
Hegesippus’ recipe, very simple but full of flavor, recalls a bit some medieval recipes, more than ancient Roman food. We find dishes with these kinds of ingredients, for example, in the Registrum Coquine, despite being temporally separated by a couple of millennia. A recipe in particular, despite being without meat, is quite similar to this kandaulos: a simple bread soup with cheese and fat broth, with the addition of spices. In another recipe, the author, Johannes Bockenheim, uses cooked pork with parsley and bread.
The list of ingredients reported by Athenaeus is quite cryptic and to prepare this recipe we need to interpret it. The meat is called cooked or boiled (hephthu kreos) and there is also fat broth (zomu pionos), but it does not make sense to prepare a soup or a stew with boiled meat adding its broth, so, possibly, we should read this recommendation as meat cooked with the other ingredients. This is the interpretation we chose, but as we said, the list of ingredients is a bit hasty and unclear.
We used grated pecorino, but you may choose other kinds of cheese. The original Phrygian cheese was made with mare and donkey milk according to Aristotle in the Historia Animalium.
From the text, it is, again, unclear if the adjective knestu (grated) is exclusively referred to bread or includes cheese. If you use a fresher cheese cut into pieces or pounded in the mortar, you will obtain a great dish anyway.
We used fresh dill, but the text might also refer to the seeds. Athenaeus does not specify which kind of meat is used. The term kreas, however, usually refers to the meat of animals as beef, mutton, or goat. We used beef because its flavors pair better with the other ingredients, but mutton or goat work perfectly.

It is available our new book, with the translation, a commentary, and glossary of a beautiful 6th century source, De Observatione Ciborum, written by the physician Anthimus to the king of the Franks Theuderic. This book contains some of the earliest medieval recipes, in addition to information about the diet of the Franks and the differences between their food habits and the alimentation of the Mediterranean populations, showing the passage between the ancient and late-medieval cooking.
If you want more late-medieval recipes, check out instead Registrum Coquine. A medieval cookbook. For more information about ancient food, we recommend reading Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Recipes, Sources.
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dry bread
fresh dill
chicken or beef broth
olive oil


Cut the meat into chunks. Sear it in a pan with olive oil until it browns. Cook it for a while. When its liquids are dried, add a bit of hot broth and cook for a couple of hours, stirring once in a while, and, if necessary, add more broth. If the broth is not already salted, add a couple of pinches of salt. The cooking time may change depending on the size of the chunks and the kind of meat you are using.
Grate the cheese and bread. Mince the dill.
When the meat is almost cooked through, thicken the stew with bread. Just before removing it from the fire, add the cheese and dill. Serve still hot.

Original text
αὐτόν φησιν ὁ Ταραντῖνος Ἡγήσιππος ἐξ ἑφθοῦ κρέως καὶ κνηστοῦ ἄρτου καὶ Φρυγίου τυροῦ ἀνήθου τε καὶ ζωμοῦ πίονος.

Hegesippus of Tarentum says that it [the kandaulos] is made with cooked meat, grated bread, Phrygian cheese, dill, and fat broth.

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De Observatione Ciborum by Anthimus. Early-medieval recipes at the court of the Franks
Registrum Coquine by Johannes Bockenheim. A medieval cookbook
Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Sources, Recipes

Translations of Historical Sources
De Re Coquinaria by Apicius – books 1-4
De Observatione Ciborum by Anthimus (6th century)
Appendicula de Condituris Variis by Johannes Damascenus (8th-9th century)
De Flore Dietarum (11th century)
Tractatus de Modo Preparandi et Condiendi Omnia Cibaria et Potus – first part (13th-14th century)
Opusculum de Saporibus by Mainus de Maineris (14th century)
Anonimo Veneziano (14th century)
Registrum Coquine by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)

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