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Recipe for
Epityrum Varium
(Olives with herbs)

Epityrum Varium (Olives with herbs)

by Cato, De Agricultura 119

Epityrum was originally a Greek dip, which was adopted by the Romans. There are two recipes that survive, quoted in Cato (De Agricultura 119), and Columella (De Re Rustica 12:49:5 and 12:49:9), as well as mentioned as a common dip in Sicily by Varro (De Lingua Latina 7:86). The word Epityrum means “Over Cheese”, because the Greeks and the Romans ate this dip or paste together with cheese. This is a great dip to serve during the Passover Seder as an authentic dip to dip Matza (Unleavened Bread) and Maror (Bitter Herbs) into.

Original recipe: Epityrum album nigrum variumque sic facito. Ex oleis albis nigris variisque nuculeos eicito. Sic condito. Concidito ipsas, addito oleum, acetum, coriandrum, cuminum, feniculum, rutam, mentam. In orculam condito, oleum supra siet. Ita utito.

Translation: You should make an epityrum of varied green, black, and speckled olives like this: Press out the stones from green, black, and speckled olives. Season as follows. Chop the olives, add olive oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, rue, mint. Put in an earthenware vessel. There should be olive oil on top. Serve like this.


  • 100g/3 oz whole green olives
  • 100g/3 oz whole black olives
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • A bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • A sprig of rue
  • 2 or 3 mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar


  • Grind the cumin and fennel seeds
  • Finely chop the coriander, rue and mint.
  • Stone and then chop the olives.
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  • Serve.
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