Patina de Asparagis Frigida
Asparagus and Figpecker Patina
IV quail (or chicken breasts)
IV 1/2 lb. asparagus
For the sauce:
I Tbs. garum
I Tbs. Wine
I Tbs. passum
II Tbs. olive oil
The Romans considered Figpeckers, songbirds with thin beaks, particularly delicious fare. Because they are obviously hard to find today, you can use quail or chicken breasts in their place.
The recipe assumes that the plucked and cleaned birds have been half-cooked before they are arranged on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.
Prepare the sauce as described above: grind the pepper, add the garum and mix; follow with the wine, passum, and olive oil, and heat.
Boil, drain, and strain the asparagus. Beat VI eggs well and mix with the asparagus. Then add the sauce and mix well. Pour this mixture over the birds and bake at 375 F. for XXV-XXX minutes.
This dish may also be served cold, as its Latin title suggests.
Olive Paste on Toast Points
Pit olives, then mix in a blender with the herbs, olive oil, and vinegar. Avoid the temptation to add any salt, since the olives we buy today are already sufficiently salted.
The Greeks and Romans ate this olive paste together with cheese, whence the derivation of its name (epityrum = over cheese). Varro (De lingua Latina 7, 86) described it as a Greek recipe, and Columella (12, 49, 9) suggested that the olives be seasoned with salt, lentiscus, rue, and fennel.
Olive paste is available for sale today, so you can purchase it instead if you are pressed for time. However, it is far more aromatic and flavorful if you make it from scratch.
You can serve this olive paste following ancient custom, that is, as an appetizer together with ricotta or other fresh cheese; or you can spread it on small slices of toast. In this latter case, you should offer both green and black olive paste to make a more attractive presentation.
-- from A Taste of Ancient Rome, by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa