Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ovidian Snack Time

In the stories of Apollo and Daphne (Met. 1) and Cycnus (Met. 12), Ovid's system of poetics is quite clear. Ovid's version of nature is fluid, human (or human-like) forms melt into other natural forms, limbs stiffening into branches or flapping into wings, becoming adorned with leaves or feathers and resulting in very convincing (to me, anyway) etiologies. Apollo chases Daphne into spicing up the Delphic oracle and crowns of the triumphal commanders. She morphs just in time to avoid rape and Apollo becomes the first-ever tree-hugger ("If you cannot be my wife, you will be my tree!").

In Met. 12, Achilles is trying to kill the impenetrable Cycnus. Since a sword or spear won't do, he is forced to smother and crush him. Poor Cycnus. And naturally, he gets changed into a swan and thus we have the etiology of the swan.

A few weeks ago (when I was still a New York resident!), Amy helped me make the savory cheesecake from The Classical Cookbook that is based upon Cato's recipe (On Agriculture 75). The recipe is very simple and only calls for feta, all-purpose flour, an egg and some leaves of Daphne ... bay leaves!

Tossing all the ingredients except the Daphne into the food processor made a super quick and slightly sticky dough, which we shaped into an ancient-looking loaf. Following Dalby and
Grainger's recipe, we placed the bay leaves under the loaf and these imparted a lovely, spicy aroma to the resulting cake.

It was good. Salty, but not overwhelmingly so, and relatively light in texture -- kind of like an Olive Garden breadstick but really cheesy.

Since it was a Sunday and Sundays call for Bloody Marys, we made Bloody Marys with the box of Kyknos brand tomato juice I bought at Titan. They complimented the salty cheesecake
nicely. The all-knowing wikipedia states that "Kyknos S.A. is a Greek tomato company and it is one of the major tomato paste brands in the country." Wikipedia also helpfully informs us that the color of the tomato paste is red.

Dalby, A. and Grainger, S. The Classical Cookbook. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996

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