ORIGINS

CHEESE

The consumption of cheese was also wide spread, especially of matured cheese. To give different flavours to cheese they habitually added flavourings to the milk such as almonds, pine nuts, thyme and various herbs. The cheese had a popular connotation: Columella (AD 40-70) pointed out that "the cheese is meant to feed the farmers and to decorate the tables of elegant people, as to point out that it was the strong dish of the humble, a primary live hood source, while for the rich it was an ornamentation', that is an ingredient of more elaborated dishes. The inhabitants of the islets, that is the multi stores popular housing in which it was almost impossible to cook, were forced to resort to cold meals made with olives, figs and cheese. Usually the cheese was eaten in at least two of the three meals provided daily: in the morning, drinking wine and served with soaked bread or rubbed with salt, garlic and other flavourings, then for lunch or dinner, alone or as bread filling. The cheese was also included in the ration of the Legionnaires', consisting of 852 grams of wheat, 96 of lard, 27 of cheese, half a litre of wine or lemonade acetate, along with bread and figs cheese was part of the athletic diets; with fresh cheese, water, honey, eggs a white sauce was prepared, the ius candidum, which is used to fill the layers of dried pasta. Cato the Censor (BC 243-149), in "De Agricoltura" lists some of the main recipes of the period, which included the use of cheese, such as the placenta (a pastry made of wheat flour and topped with cheese, honey, leaves bay, oil), the scribilita (the sweet of the time, made of cheese flavoured with honey) and libum, that is a flour cake largely consumed by the Romans and of which Cato gives the recipe: "crushes two pounds of cheese in a mortar, and when it is well shredded you should add a pound of wheat flour, or if you want the cake softer, half pound of fine flour, and mix well with cheese. Add an egg and work everything well. Make a bread, place it on some leaves and cook under a strong fire under a cover". Virgil (BC 70-19) was fond of Moretum, dry cheese crushed and seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, garlic cloves, celery, cilantro and rue. Apicius (first century AD ca.), in his cookbook "De re coquinaria" lists the cheese that had to be always present in the kitchen: fresh cheese (caseus scored), sweet (caseus dulcis) and soft (caesus mollis); the cheese - crushed with milk, honey and eggs - was the basis of a sauce used for cooking fish. The already mentioned Columella, finally, reports the recipe for 'cheese salad' enriched with pine nuts and toasted hazelnuts, dressed with oil, vinegar, pepper, savoury, thyme, oregano and mint.