Thyme Travel: Getty Villa Culinary Event To Feature Dishes From Ancient Rome

Enjoy a moveable feast transporting guests back to the days of Julius Caesar.

Getty Villa Malibu

Inner Peristyle, Getty Villa. Image Courtesy of J. Paul Getty Trust

You may think you have experienced some pretty esoteric meals during your travels, but it’s doubtful any repast has, well, transported you through the centuries to the past. That’s the proposition of this culinary adventure being hosted at the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Villa in Malibu, itself an exacting replica of a 1st Century AD Roman villa. It’s an evocative and idyllic setting for what promises to be a memorable evening spent above the crashing waves of Malibu, dining as a true Patrician would have, seated at the table of Gaius Julius Caesar and his contemporaries 2000 years ago. At The Roman Table: A Culinary Adventure at the Getty Villa is scheduled for two days only, Thursday and Friday, July 14-15, 2011 from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

The evening begins with food historian Andrew Dalby exploring the nature of “power dining” in antiquity with a talk entitled Dining with Caesar: Food and Power in Ancient Rome. He identifies great wines, local produce, and luxuries—including exotic spices from India and beyond—that made up a fashionable dinner 2,000 years ago. He illustrates how invitations and place settings at the table were calculated to impress, persuade, or seduce.

Dalby also examines Gaius Julius Caesar and how he, as a relatively unknown politician, built up the influence that made him a dictator and gave birth to a new political structure. Caesar understood better than any of his rivals that food could serve as a means of persuasion, and Dalby shares examples from Caesar’s feasts and entertainments to shed fresh light on this pivotal period of Roman history.

Following the talk, adventurous palates move into the Inner Peristyle of the Getty Villa to enjoy a seated, four-course dinner prepared under the direction of Chef Sally Grainger. Many of the dishes are based on Grainger’s extensive research of Apicius, the only surviving ancient Roman recipe book. The menu features dishes typical of a celebratory feast including oysters, delicately flavored with a special sauce called an oenogarum and calf’s kidney stuffed with fennel and coriander as a first course. As a pièce de résistance, a whole boned and stuffed suckling pig known as porcellum hortolanum (garden-style piglet). The dinner concludes with a honey infused cake called a libum. The menu is rich in meats and combines complex sweet and spicy flavors to entice adventurous palates.

At the Roman Table: A Culinary Adventure at the Getty Villa is $75 per person; wine is included. Seating is limited. Reservations are available by visiting the Getty’s website, or by phone at (310) 440-7300.

1 Comment

  1. Kate on June 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    What a fantastic thing to do! I wish I was in LA for this cool event.

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