Saturday 22 October 2016

Romans partial to a big maximus

Published 19/05/2015 | 18:06

Romans had a penchant for burgers, historians believe
Romans had a penchant for burgers, historians believe

Did the Romans foresee the posh burger craze more than 1,500 years in advance?

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Visitors to Hadrian's Wall this weekend will be able to judge for themselves whether the 'umble burger should stand alongside Latin achievements like the Colosseum and decent roads.

English Heritage is laying on samples of a Roman dish called Isicia Omentata, which it says bears a strong resemblance to the fast-food favourite, at Birdoswald Roman Fort near Carlisle on Saturday.

But this is no cheap, own-brand collection of gristle, this is a burger fit for Caesar himself, based on a recipe taken from the anonymous Roman cookbook Apicius which dates to the 4th or 5th century AD.

The Roman original contained minced meat, pepper, wine, pine nuts, and the Roman's beloved garum, a type of rich fish-based sauce. And the modern versions that will be available will follow it closely, before being cooked over an open fire.

Food historian Dr Annie Gray said: "We all know that the Romans left a huge mark on Britain, fundamentally altering the British diet forever.

"Street food became available en masse, and many of our favourite foods were introduced, including Isicia Omentata, what can be seen as the Roman forefather to today's burger. This 'burger' was decidedly more upmarket than many of today's offerings, and is richer and more complex than the plain beef version most common today."

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