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Recipe for
Ficatum Porcinum
(Fried liver)

Ficatum Porcinum (Fried liver)

from Anthimus: On Foods

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Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens

AFAIK, this recipe comes from Grant and was inserted by original site author (have I not said to buy these author's books? Please do so and support them.... Hopefully, will not get a nasty letter about this)...

Ficatum refers to a liver fattened on figs. Athletes in the ancient world used figs as a way of gaining muscle, so it is not surprising that this fruit was fed to animals to help them put on weight.

This dish represents the fact that common soldiers may not always have been presented with beef steak just because beef was being handed out by the Quartermaster. Every part of an animal was eaten or used in the ancient world, and it would have been a lucky contubernium that rececieved beef rations week after week in the former steak cuts. More often than not, 'meat' rations would have come as less appetizing (to the modern palate) cuts of meat: kidney, heart, tongue, liver, brain, stomach-lining, testicles, oxtail, and so on. In the Western World, we often forgo the consumption of these animal parts. Two thousand years ago (just as in many parts of the third world today) meat was far to value a commodity to throw out, never mind which part of the animal it came from. No doubt the centurio, ducenarii and the family of the Tribune ate well on beef steaks, why the offal was cut up to for the hungry men of the contubernia.

The term 'ficstum' refers to a liver fattened up on figs, which modern pigs will certainly not have been brought up on!

Original recipe:

Translation: Cut it up carefully, place on a metal gridiron with broad rods and baste either with olive oil or with fat. It is grilled like this over fione charcoal so that it is cooked, and people eat it while still hot, but underdone, with olive oil, salt and chopped coriander sprinkled on top.


  • 250g/½lb lamb's or calf's liver (sliced)
  • 60 g/2 oz white flour
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  • Puree the coriander leaves in a blender with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt until you have a smooth paste.
  • Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan. Roll the slices of liver in the flour and fry over a high heat for 2 minutes on each side.
  • Serve each slice of liver with a spoonful of the coriander puree.
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