This book is the featured selection at Cook the Books for December/January. Thank you Debra for choosing this one….I was completely engaged with this story. Food, drink, historical content, political maneuvering, joy and yes….sorrow.
Be prepared to be intoxicated with vivid descriptions of lavish meals and the preparation for wickedly decadent parties. I enjoy historical fiction as it gives me appetite (pun intended) to learn more about the real characters.
Your heart will go out to Thrasius, the slave purchased for an astronomical sum to become head chef for Marcus Apicus. The story is told from his point of view and I found it very interesting, especially the depictions of real life characters such as Apicus, Apicata, Pliny, Sejanus and Drusus.
Apicus was maniacal in his quest to become Caesar’s culinary adviser and the journey to secure his dream was amazing. I will try and find more books about him. He didn’t realize wealth alone wouldn’t pave the way.
The actual rendering of Marcus Apicus surprised me a bit as I envisioned Gerard Butler while reading the book. What visual came to mind as Apicus was losing his temper or sweet talking the guests? It was Butler for me. Totally.
The treason and infidelities committed in this book makes for a good plot. I was simultaneously fascinated and saddened to see innocents drawn in, suffering undeserved consequences. The ending chapters were indeed horrifying but I can’t give away the plot. It all comes together and I could have read more.
With so many meals to choose from you can’t go wrong, although I was never tempted to have fried flamingo tongues or hyacinth bulbs. Spinach Pie did sound like a winner. So that was made in addition to a shrimp paella served with liberal amounts of white wine and homemade bread. (photos above)
The treat, the decadent addition to the table for us, is a cheese we’ve never had called Jasper Hill Harbison. It’s a soft ripened cheese wrapped in strips of spruce cambium. See it below? It’s actual spruce wrapping. The most unique cheese we have ever had and whoa….so delicious. Instead of using a knife I used a mini spatula to dip into the cheese for spreading. Maybe they made something like this in ancient Roman times, using tree bark. It’s wonderful.
You have until January 31, 2018 to read and review if you’d care to hook up. I recommend this historical accounting of Apicus and ancient Rome. Click HERE for the link to Cook the Books.