Hadrian, Roman Cooking

Felicem diem natalem, Hadriane!

Happy 1943rd birthday, Hadrian!

This year, I decided to cook Cato the Elder’s recipe for Libum (sweet cheesecake) as Hadrian’s birthday cake.

Libum (original recipe from LacusCurtius):

Bray 2 pounds of cheese thoroughly in a mortar; when it is thoroughly macerated, add 1 pound of wheat flour, or, if you wish the cake to be more dainty, ½ pound of fine flour, and mix thoroughly with the cheese. Add 1 egg, and work the whole well. Pat out a loaf, place on leaves, and bake slowly on a warm hearth under a crock.

Modern recipe (serves 2)

  • 180-200g plain, all purpose flour
  • 225g ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup clear honey

Sift the flour into a bowl. Beat the cheese until it’s soft and stir it into the flour along with the egg.  Form a soft dough and divide into 4. Mold each one into a bun and place them on a greased baking tray with a fresh bay leaf underneath. Heat the oven to 190°C/380°F and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden-brown. Warm the honey and place the warm cakes in it so that they absorb it. Allow to stand 30 minutes before serving.

For dinner, I also cooked one of my favourite Apician recipes, Pullum Particum (Parthian Chicken). You can find the recipe here.

Parthian Chicken & Chickpeas accompanied with Date Paste.

I also opened a bottle of Mulsum. This Mulsum is today produced by the archaeological site and Roman vineyard Mas des Tourelles in southern France and is made according to a recipe from Apicius. As testified by Pliny the Elder, the blend of wine, honey and a certain number of plants and spices are used to make this famous wine, which was often served as the «gustatio» (before the meal as an aperitif) or as a refreshment on its own.

Propino tibi salutem!

5 thoughts on “Felicem diem natalem, Hadriane!”

  1. Wow! It looks really good, a sort of combination between BaoZhe and cheesecake, two of my favourites. I wish I could try it. I also loved your post yesterday. It made me feel a bit of pity for all the poor animals slaughtered in their celebrations… The Ancient Romans would have been better off if they made cute movies with dancing bears and singing lions, I think. Many things are indeed better nowadays. Perhaps though we could have a few more Philosopher rulers.

  2. Hello and thank you.  I am Dr. Richard Gibson from DeLand, Florida, USA, (a retired English Professor).   I am new to this site and frankly I’m bowled over!  I am a great admirer of Hadrian (and of Augustus, the two of whom I consider the great creators of the Pax Romana).  And I can’t tell you how much I admire your careful and beautiful work in creating this site–everything from exhaustive photos of portrait sculptures to cake recipes!  Most enjoyable and wonderfully documented as well.  In this age of “fake facts,” it is delightful to see such careful documentation and attention to truth.  Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!With Warmest Regards,Richard Gibs

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