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Recipe for:
(Garlic and herb Pâté)

Moretum (Garlic and herb Pâté)

from Virgil II.IV

Yeah, go ahead and click here to buy this book!
Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.

Yes, this book has a new cover, but I like this one better. Blah, I am so horrible.
AFAIK, this recipe comes from Grant and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

Here is an ancient recipe from Virgil. And as ancient as it is, it was added here from one book, like many... no, I did not do the deed.

This recipe, we find from Virgil. Then, with his mind focused on such a thought, he entered the garden. First he pulled up for garlic bulbs with their densely-packed cloves, gently digging up the soil with his fingers. Next he put delicate celery leaves and stiff rue and coriander trembling on its thin stalk. When he had gathered these, he sat down by the cheerful fire he shouted loudly to his slave for a mortar. Then he stripped each head of garlic of it's matted body removing the outer skin and throwing to the ground here and there whatever he did not want. The cloves he dipped in water and put into a hollow circle of stone. He sprinkled over some grains of salt, and when the salt have been mixed in, hard cheese was added. He heaped the herbs he had gathered on top. He balanced the mortar with his left hand in his rough lap, and with his right hand he first crush the pungent garlic and he then pureed everything so that the juice was evenly blended. His hand traced a circle: gradually each ingredient lost its individual characteristics and there was one color produced out of the many, not completely green, because the Milky Way it's true, nor yet shining like milk, because it was colored by so many herbs. Often the sharp savour shot through the man's flaring nostrils, his face turned up showed his dislike for the meal, and often with the back of his hand he swiped his cheerful eyes, swearing angrily at the pungency. The work kept going on, but now no longer jerkily, as before but rather the pestle slid around more slowly in heavy circles. So he poured on some drops of olive oil an added for flavor a little vinegar, and against turd in pound of the ingredients together. And finally with two fingers he wiped around the home order payroll's Abyss into one ball and so was made of Moretum is excellent in appearance as it was a name.

from The Moretum, Appendix Virgiliana II.IV

Original recipe:

Translation: On something of the kind reflecting had
He then the garden entered, first when there
With fingers having lightly dug the earth
Away, he garlic roots with fibres thick,
And four of them doth pull; he after that
Desires the parsley's graceful foliage,
And stiffness-causing rue,' and, trembling on
Their slender thread, the coriander seeds,
And when he has collected these he comes
And sits him down beside the cheerful fire
And loudly for the mortar asks his wench.
Then singly each o' th' garlic heads be strips
From knotty body, and of outer coats
Deprives them, these rejected doth he throw
Away and strews at random on the ground.
The bulb preserved from th' plant in water doth
He rinse, and throw it into th' hollow stone.
On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese
Is added, hard from taking up the salt.
Th' aforesaid herbs he now doth introduce
And with his left hand 'neath his hairy groin
Supports his garment;' with his right he first
The reeking garlic with the pestle breaks,
Then everything he equally doth rub
I' th' mingled juice. His hand in circles move:
Till by degrees they one by one do lose
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
Because the milky fragments this forbid,
Nor showing white as from the milk because
That colour's altered by so many herbs.
The vapour keen doth oft assail the man's
Uncovered nostrils, and with face and nose
Retracted doth he curse his early meal;
With back of hand his weeping eyes he oft
Doth wipe, and raging, heaps reviling on
The undeserving smoke. The work advanced:
No longer full of jottings as before,
But steadily the pestle circles smooth
Described. Some drops of olive oil he now
Instils, and pours upon its strength besides
A little of his scanty vinegar,
And mixes once again his handiwork,
And mixed withdraws it: then with fingers twain
Round all the mortar doth he go at last
And into one coherent ball doth bring
The diff'rent portions, that it may the name
And likeness of a finished salad fit.
And Scybale i' th' meantime busy too
He lifted out the bread; which, having wiped
His hands, he takes, and having now dispelled,
The fear of hunger, for the day secure...


  • 4 bulbs of garlic (Lucius Sallustius Plautus says that this is WAY too much garlic and will blow out people's taste buds -- he used 4 cloves and it was truly excellent).Perhaps roasting the garlic will be better as it makes it milder.
  • 200g/7oz feta cheese
  • 3 celery stalks
  • A large bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • a small bunch of fresh rue leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt


  • Break the garlic up into cloves and spread these out on a baking tray and grill for 5 minutes. Turn the cloves over a few times to ensure even cooking.
  • Leave to cool for a few minutes and then squeeze out the garlic flesh from the skins.
  • Roughly chop the celery, cheese and herbs and put them in a blender with the garlic and blend until smooth.
  • Add the wine vinegar and olive oil and blend.
  • Serve as an accompaniment.
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