Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A Trojan Boar

I don't know if it's due to the wonderful meal I had last night (the kind that prompts thoughts of Spartan regimes in the morning) that I don't find the thought of this dish, described in the 6th January London Review of Books, entirely appetising:

'Wild boar a la Troyenne [was served] at a banquet given by Servilius Rullus for Marcus Tullius Cicero, after the latter's victory over Catiline in 63 BC.

A young Sicilian cook prepared the dish, which was carried in by four Ethiopian slaves. Baskets of dates were suspended from the boar's tusks. Piglets in pastry surrounded it. When the boar was cut open, a second animal was discovered within it, and a third, and a fourth. The sequence was finally terminated by a fig-pecker. ('If a fig-pecker could grow as big as a pheasant, it would be worth the price of an acre of land,' Brillat-Savarin adjudged 19 centuries later, before divulging Canon Charcot's method of consumption: pull out the gizzard and swallow the bird whole...)

By the time of Petronius the dish was already an absurdity. Decapitated at the table, live thrushes, (the poor man's fig-pecker) fluttered out of the boar's open neck to be recaptured by slaves acting the parts of huntsmen. A second slash of the sabre and sausages tumbled out in place of gut. The boar's vital organs were blood puddings.'

I suppose it beats fish fingers.


  1. Piglets in Pastry would be a good name for a blog

  2. What should it be about, do you think? The state of the western world, I reckon