Monday, June 28, 2010

Six Norman Douglas Recipes


This is a pretentious name for roast pork , but its derivation, if correct, is interesting. In 1430 the Greek and Roman Bishops held a Council in Florence to discuss some question concerning the Roman and Greek churches. One day at dinner they were served with this roast pork, which the Greek Bishops liked so much that they cried “Arista” (“excellent!”). Since then roast pork flavoured with rosemary and garlic is Arista for the Florentines and roast pork for everybody else. Here is the recipe:

Clean your loin of pork of the skin the part of the fat; make little holes in the meat and in each hole put pepper, salt, a clove of garlic, a spray of rosemary, and a clove or two. Salt well outside and put it to roast on the spit or in the oven. When cooked you may call it Arista, if you like.

Falsu Magru

Take enough lean of beef to make ten thin slices, which you beat well. Season them with pepper and salt. Spray on the top of each one a little layer of butter, sprinkle over some grated cheese mixed with grated bread, some parsley, chillies and sage all finely chopped. Make a layer on the top with sliced boiled eggs and cover each piece of meat with a slice of ham as big as the meat.
Roll each piece of meat up and tie with string.

Now make the following sauce in a casserole. One onion, one carrot, a piece of celery, two cloves, all finely chopped. Fry these ingredients in a casserole with a piece of butter; when the onion is brown, put in the casserole two cupfuls of broth, with a teaspoonful of tomato sauce. Let this simmer for ten minutes, then add your meat rolls, and let them cook gently till tender. Serve with the sauce over them.

Salad Rocket

Nec minus erucas jubeo vitare salaces. – Ovid

Et Veneres revocans eruca morantem. – Martial

He who would follow Ovid and Martial should take: twenty leaves of salad rocket, wash them thoroughly, and with half a lettuce and a clove of chopped garlic make into salad, seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar. Salad rocket is certainly a stimulant.

Recommended by Columella, and by Turner and Culpepper.

Shrimp and Rice on Toast

Cook your rice in broth and drain it well. Mix it with some chopped shrimps, already boiled, season with salt and put the above on pieces of toast.
Place a small piece of butter on the top and cook for a few minutes in the oven. Serve with Cayenne.

Pistachio Cream

Take out the kernels of half a pound of pistachio nuts, beat them in a mortar with a spoonful of brandy, and put them into a tossing-pan, with a pint of cream, and the yolks of two eggs, finely beaten. Stir it gently over a slow fire till it is thick, but do not let it boil. Put into a soup plate and when it is cold, stick some kernels, cut long-ways, all over it.

Early Birds

Heat a quart of ale mixed with a tablespoon of powdered ginger and nutmeg. Whisk up three fresh eggs with a gill of cold ale and two ounces of moist sugar. When well frothed up, add the warm ale, by degrees and a glass of eau-de-vie. When this is done, drink immediately.


  1. all these recipes sound so good mmmm!

  2. Aliki: They are. And they have a very interesting background. The man who wrote them, Norman Douglas, was an Englishman who lived for much of his life on the island of Capri, near Naples (and Mount Vesuvius). He was a novelist and wrote essays on many subjects. These recipes are taken from his final book, Venus In The Kitchen. One thing I like about them is that they don't give too many instructions because if you have a love (and any flair) for cooking, you're often happy to find your own way, even if you make mistakes for a while. We REALLY look forward to seeing you on Friday.