Hadrian

Felicem diem natalem, Hadriane! 🎂

Happy 1947th birthday, Hadrian!

I made some Cato’s Globi (Pastry Balls) as Hadrian’s birthday cake this year.

Globi (original recipe from LacusCurtius):

Mix the cheese and spelt in the same way (as Libum), sufficient to make the number desired. Pour lard into a hot copper vessel, and fry one or two at a time, turning them frequently with two rods, and remove when done. Spread with honey, sprinkle with poppy seed, and serve.

Ingredients: (recipe taken from Mark Grant’s Roman Cookery)

  • 1 egg
  • 100g spelt flour
  • 60g clear honey
  • 200g Cheddar cheese (or ricotta cheese)
  • 85g poppy seeds & sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • olive oil for deep frying

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. Break into small pieces and roll each of these in your hands, forming balls about 2.5 cm/1 inch in diameter.

Prepare a simple deep-fryer in a saucepan using olive oil, which will need to be at least 2.5 cm deep. When the oil is hot but not smoking, gently drop 2 or 3 pastry balls into the oil and turn them occasionally until they are golden brown on the outside. Lift from the oil and drain on paper towels. Cook the rest of the pastry balls in the same way.

Heat the honey in a frying pan until it is very runny. Pour the poppy and sesame seeds onto a plate, and roll the balls in the honey until thoroughly coasted. Roll in the roasted sesame seeds or the poppy seeds. These pastry balls are delicious, eaten either hot or cold.

Propino tibi salutem!

In celebration of Hadrian’s birthday, I also opened a bottle of Mulsum. This Mulsum is today produced in Germany (you can buy it from der-Roemer-shop here) 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.


One thousand nine hundred years ago, Hadrian celebrated his 47th birthday in Tarraco (Tarragona, Spain). Having returned to Gaul from Britain, Hadrian made his only known visit to his native land as emperor during the winter of AD 122/3 (read more here). He took up his residence at Tarraco (Tarragona), Rome’s oldest foundation on the Iberian Peninsula and the capital of Hispania Tarraconensis, and restored the Temple of Augustus at his own expense.

Aureus from the “Travel series” series depicting the province of Hispania on the reverse. © The Trustees of the British Museum

3 thoughts on “Felicem diem natalem, Hadriane! 🎂”

  1. Thanks so much for this, as always!

    As I am also turning 47 this calendar year–it’s one of many things that Hadrian and I share in common!–I hope that my own year turns out as well as his did!

      1. Superb! Yes, mine will be in late May. Us Year of the Dragon folks must stick together! 😉 Though, perhaps we should call it “The Year of Hadrian’s 1900th” instead?

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