Patina ex Rusticis – Ancient Roman Frittata

The patinae are typical ancient Roman dishes characterized not by specific ingredients or cooking method, but just by the kind of pan used to prepare them, called, indeed, patina.
This week we present the patina ex rusticis, a patina with wild herbs, from De Re Coquinaria, which we can consider a frittata for the method of preparation. Other patinae, instead, are completely different, such as the one with peaches we prepared in the summer.
In this source, there are many variants for this recipe, which can be prepared with different kinds of vegetables, among which cabbage tops, cucumbers, and asparagus. The latter version requires to remove the hardest parts of the asparagus and pound them in the mortar, then sift the juice with the addition of a bit of wine.
Another interesting variant, not meant for the asparagus recipe, consist in the addition of chicken meat or fish pulp to the basic recipe, which you find below with our translation. In this case, we suggest greasing well the pan with olive oil and add the meat or fish previously simmered in water and minced finely, the herbs, and the sauce, adding then the eggs and cooking the frittata at low heat, without flipping it.

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black mustard greens
5 eggs
1 onion
olive oil
white wine
spices (black pepper, lovage, coriander seeds)
fresh savory

Grind the spices in the mortar. Mince a quarter of the onion and add it in the mortar with the savory. Add a bit of garum, wine, and oil, and mix.
Chop the greens. Place the pan on charcoal, adding olive oil and the herbs, letting them wilt, then pour the sauce. Beat five eggs and add them to the herbs, then cover the pan with the lid.
Grind black pepper. When the frittata is cooked, plate and sprinkle it with pepper before serving it still hot.

Note about the ingredients
To know more about garum and fish sauces in ancient Rome, check out our articles about how to prepare garum and muria, the ancestor of colatura di alici. If you prefer, remember that you may always substitute garum with a pinch of salt.
We used coriander seeds instead of the fresh herb, which does not grow in our garden in winter. If you prefer, use other aromatic herbs instead, for example celery tops or parsley.

Original text
Patinam ex rusticis sive tamnis [*cymis] sive sinapi viridi sive cucumere sive cauliculis item facies (teres piper, ligusticum, coriandrum viride, satureiam, cepam, vinum, liquamen et oleum […] transferes in patellam perunctam et, si volueris, ova dissolves, ad ignem. Ut obliget piper minutum asperges et inferes). Si voluens substernes pulpas piscium vel pullorum.

Another recipe for a patina with wild herbs, or cabbage tops, or mustard greens, or cucumbers, or cabbage stems: make it in the same way (pound pepper, lovage, fresh cilantro, savory, onion, wine, garum, oil […] Pour in a greased pan. If you want, beat the eggs and thicken them on fire. Sprinkle with pepper and serve). Add on bottom, if you want, fish or chicken pulp.

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Translations of Historical Sources
Opusculum de Saporibus by Mainus de Maineris (14th century)
Registrum Coquine (first part) by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)
Registrum Coquine (second part) by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)
Appendicula de Condituris Varis by Johannes Damascenus (8-9th century)
De Flore Dietarum first part (11th century)

How to make garum
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Farcimina – Spelt and Meat Sausages
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