Cato’s De Agri Cultura collects a few recipes for sweets, bread, and other preparations that would be, otherwise, lost. One of the main characteristics of these recipes is that they are simple, made with just a few ingredients, usually based on cheese, cereals, eggs, and completely different from the methods of De Re Coquinaria. This, in addition to the fact that they are the oldest Roman recipes that we know, makes this source very interesting for the history of food.
In the past we prepared other recipes for sweets, bread, and olives from this beautiful book: placenta, savillum, libum, puls Punica, granea triticea, epityrum, mustacei.
The globi are made with just alica, husked spelt coarsely pounded without reducing it into flour, cheese fresh enough to be mixed with the spelt, honey, and poppy seeds. As Pliny writes, ancient Romans preferred white poppy seeds to prepare food. Alica and cheese are mixed in equal parts. Cato, in this passage of the book, does not specify how to prepare alica for this recipe, but for two other recipes he states clearly that it must to be soaked in water: for the placenta he writes, “alicam in aquam infundito,” and then again, to make the puls Punica, “libram alicae in aquam indito”.
To fry the globi, we used lard (in Latin unguen, a generic term for fat), but if you prefer, use olive oil.
We suggest serving the globi still hot.
To know more about cheese and cheesemaking in ancient Rome, check out our Patreon page, in which you find a new article with our translation and comments about a passage from Columella’s De Re Rustica, in addition to other translations and articles about historical food and recipes.
Our new book Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Recipes, Sources (Italian edition here) is available on Amazon (e-book and printed edition).
200 gr spelt
200 gr fresh cheese
white poppy seeds
Pound a little the spelt in the mortar without reducing it to flour, then steep it in water overnight. Discard the water and mix the spelt with the cheese until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency. Shape little balls of dough with your hands.
Melt a good amount of lard and fry the globi one or two at a time. When they are cooked, pour over honey and sprinkle them with white poppy seeds. Serve still hot.
Globos sic facito. Caseum eum alica ad eundem modum misceto. Inde quantos voles facere facito. In ahenum caldum unguen indito. Singulos aut binos coquito versatoque crebro duabus rudibus, coctos eximito, eos melle unguito, papaver infriato, ita ponito.
Prepare in this way the globi. Mix the same quantity of cheese and alica and shape all the globi you want. Pour fat in a hot copper pot. Cook one or two globi at a time, turning them frequently with two spatulas. Remove them from the fire when they are cooked, pour over honey, sprinkle with poppy seeds, and serve them.
Translations of Historical Sources
Opusculum de Saporibus by Mainus de Maineris (14th century)
Registrum Coquine (first part) by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)
Appendicula de Condituris Varis by Johannes Damascenus (8-9th century)
Index of Recipes
Kykeon – Ancient Greek Ritual Drink – Eleusinian Mysteries
Gastris – Ancient Greek Sweet
Artolaganon Bread with Ancient Sourdough
Afrutum or Spumeum – 6th-century Byzantine recipe
Ofella – Ancient Roman Steak
Fruit salads – Melon and Peaches
Isicia Marina – Shrimp Cakes and Cucumber Salad
Sala Cattabia – Snow and Posca
Copadia – Beef Stew
Puls Punica – Phoenician Dessert
Farcimina – Spelt and Meat Sausages
Ova Spongia ex Lacte – Sweet Omelettes
Flatbread and Chickpea Soup
Salted Fish with Arugula Sauce
Savillum – Cheesecake
Pasta and Meatballs – Minutal Terentinum
Venison Stew with Spelt Puls
Veal with Allec Sauce – Ius in Elixam Allecatum
Isicia Omentata – Meatballs Wrapped in Caul Fat
Placenta – Honey Cheesecake
Pork Laureate – Porcellum Laureatum
Poppy Seed Bread with Ancient Dry Yeast
Cured Olives and Epityrum
Mustacei – Grape-Must Bread
Libum – Ancient Cheesecake