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Nero's "Smoothie" from Apicus' Spiced Wine Recipe

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I'm writing this as an entry in the smoothie contest. Being that my "shtick" is historical(ish) recipes, I did a little research and found that the smoothie was invented in the 1960's. Now, I could go trying to find the original smoothie recipe and make that... but that would be rather boringly modern, so I got a little creative.

That's not to say that I made this thing up entirely. Oh no. There is good historical evidence for most of this recipe. Basically, it's based on two sources: one is the 4th-or-5th century Roman cookbook entitled Apicus, which is where I got the recipe for the spiced/honeyed wine. The second source is a story about Nero sending slaves running in relay down the Appian Way to bring him snow from the mountains to mix with his wine. Basically this recipe is 90% Apicus and 10% possibly-fictional-story-about-Nero. The instructable will probably break down into about the same proportions. So, first of all, here's the Apicus part:

"The composition of [this] excellent spiced wine [is as follows]. Into a copper bowl put 6 sextarii of honey and 2 sextarii of wine; heat on a slow fire, constantly stirring the mixture with a whip. At the boiling point add a dash of cold wine, retire from stove and skim. repeat this twice or three times, let it rest till the next day, and skim again. Then add 4 ozs. of crushed pepper, 3 scruples of mastich, a drachm each of [nard or laurel] leaves and saffron, 5 drachms of roasted date stones crushed and previously soaked in wine to soften them. When this is properly done add 18 sextarii of light wine. To clarify it perfectly, add [crushed] charcoal twice or as often as necessary which will draw [the residue] together [and carefully strain or filter through the charcoal]."

 
 
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Eldin13 years ago
If the translator suggested that the original referred to allspice, then they didn't do any research at all as to what spices the Romans may have actually had available. Allspice is one of the (very few) spices indigenous to the Americas. It was completely unknown in Europe, Africa, and Asia prior to the early 1500's. It's not impossible that the original author meant a different spice altogether, but it's also quite likely that they actually did mean pepper, which was used to spice sweet drinks and deserts in India and northern Africa historically, and is still commonly used in Indian spiced tea which is often drunk sweet. All that being said, I'm sure that the allspice produces an excellent result, but not one that could have been produced in Roman times. I may try a batch with your recipe as written, as well as a batch using pepper instead, just for comparison. And above all, thank you for posting this recipe.
Glomgrey (author)  Eldin13 years ago
Yes, you are correct >.< I found this out after the fact myself, though I think the reason might be slightly different than this even. The translation I had was an old British one, and found out later that "allspice" was a term used in that time and place for a mixture of several spices rather than the Jamaican allspice that we have today. Supposedly the mixture is similar to pumpkin pie spice, but I haven't managed to track down an actual recipe yet... when I do I may edit this instructable considerably...
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