Tuesday, January 31, 2012

See This Little Guy? The Romans Loved Him. Especially Roasted in Honey!

The ancient Romans thought dormice made fine little appetizers. On page 301 of my novel, Cleopatra Selene watches Maecenas pop "a tiny roasted dormouse whole into his mouth and crunch the tiny bones with relish...He gave me a sly look as he licked the honey off his fingers."

Dormice were farmed in large pits or terra cotta containers. The Romans liked their tiny rodents rolled in honey and poppy seeds, then roasted to perfection. They often served them along with sizzling sausages over plums and pomegranate seeds.

The video of the snoring dormouse (found here--totally adorable) making the internet rounds made me think of the Romans' strange tastes. But it also got me wondering--did they eat the fur too? Along with the tail? And those adorable little ears?

Ack.

Fortunately, the Romans also loved cake. Lots and lots of cake. Made with cheese. Cheesecake. Thanks the gods for cheesecake.




13 comments:

Karen Strong said...

Okay...uh, gross? LOL. That is so interesting. Well, at least they had cheesecake! :)

Allison Macias said...

I saw that vid and the first thing that popped into my mind was "How did Romans eat that fur?"

But cheesecake totally trumps it. Thank the gods for cheesecake indeed!!!

Robyn Lucas said...

Eeeeewwww.

Caroline Lawrence said...

Actually I read somewhere that they fattened the little critters up in special jars called glirariums until they were the size of RATS! Even worse, huh?

P.S. Be careful how you use them in your historical fiction. Mary Beard invented the DORMOUSE TEST. As paraphrased by historian Tom Holland, she reckons "the longer it takes for the delicacy to be mentioned in a drama set in ancient Rome, the more authentic the reconstruction is likely to be!"

Crysnia said...

One of the earlier memories I have of learning Latin is trying to figure out what the heck "glires" was and then once I translated it, thinking "WHO EATS THIS STUFF?!"

Picked up Cleopatra's Moon last night! Can't wait to start it!

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

That does sound gross, especially since that little doormouse in the picture looks so sweet!! :( But I guess us eating lard-infested everything would probably seem gross to them.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

@Karen: I know! I just kept repeating..cheesecake, cheesecake!

@Allison: I keep "worrying" about the fur too (hack, hack, FURBALL!)

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

@ROBIN: Thanks for stopping by (even if I did gross you out!)

@Caroline: You are always sharing the most interesting information with me--THANK YOU!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Makes me want to be a vegetarian. Ugg! e

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

@Crysnia--I hope you enjoy it!

@Jessie E.--I must confess that I tried to find the sweetest picture I could find. And good point--our lard based stuff would probably be gross to them too!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

@e: Don't become a vegetarian! Then we'll never be able to the Iberian Pig! ;-)

Michelle Liebgott-Osinga said...

There are different species of Dormice, and this one is actually one of the smaller ones. The ones the Romans ate was a different, larger species I am guessing.

Michelle Liebgott-Osinga said...

There are several different species of Dormice and this one is one of the smaller ones. There is an Asian one that is the size of a squirrel! I am guessing the dormice that the Romans ate were actually a different species than the Hazel Dormouse, which is what this one is.