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Roman recipe for
Patina de piris
(Pear patina)

Patina de piris (Pear patina)

by Apicius 4, 2, 35

Yeah, go ahead and click here to buy this book!
Cooking Apicius
AFAIK, this recipe comes from a number of sources, but many cite Sally Grainger I didn't lift this out of her book, but many people on the 'Net have and I thought I would go ahead and put the "buy box" here for her book — she has answered a number of my questions and been very nice and helpful. (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!)

The recipe is a 'delicious' dessert if you like a mixture of strong flavours. The Romans referred to their dessert course as mensa secunda, or "second meal. " They satisfied their fondness for sweets with desserts such as fruitcakes, pudding, sweet egg-based dishes, and sweet cheeses — and in this case, a delicious pear patina.

A quote from Sally Grainger's book Cooking Apicius (I looked it up after I read it on another site) ties in well for me — if you read RiB, you know that I really enjoyed the BBC series What the Romans did for us and she mentioned it in her book (She was a guest on there cooking Roman stuff):

...the addition of fish sauce to a dessert always causes consternation until it is tasted. Anyone who saw the television series What the Romans did for us with Adam Hart-Davies may possibly remember it was called a 'fishy custard.' They gave it this name because they couldn't get past the fish sauce and see how delicious the other ingredients (honey, raisin wine) could be.

Original recipe: Pira elixa et purgata e medio teres cum pipere, cumino, melle, passo, liquamine, oleo modico. Ouis missis Patina facies, piper super aspargis et inferes.

Translation: Core and boil the pears, pound them with pepper, cumin, honey, passum, liquamen, and a little oil. Add eggs to make a patina, sprinkle with pepper and serve.


  • 4 pears
  • Water or white wine (to cook the pears)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pinch each pepper and cumin
  • ½ cup passum (a modern version of this raisin wine is the Italian dessert wine Vin Santo)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk (optional)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 - 2 T. Garum


  • Poach the whole pears in water or white wine.
  • When they are done, peel and core them
  • Then crush thepears into a puree, mixing in the honey, pepper, cumin and passum.
  • Beat the eggs, adding the milk if desired.
  • Then blend this into the pear mixture with the olive oil.
  • Pour into a casserole and bake for around 20 minutes at 350° F.
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