On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar's reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denari. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome's leading epicure.
Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius' help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals, while Thrasius finds a family in Apicius' household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and her handmaiden, Passia whom Thrasius quickly falls in love with. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome.
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Apicius was a real Roman who lived in the first century A.D. The oldest known cookbook in the world bears his name.
One of the translations of the cookbook, by Joseph Vehling, is available for free online. However the best critical edition is by food historian, Sally Grainger and Christopher Grocock, Apicius, a Critical Edition With an Introduction And English Translation. This book has been invaluable to me in my research.
Sally Grainger also has a wonderful companion book which helps modern cooks adapt some of the recipes for today’s kitchen. Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today is easy to understand and the recipes are delightful.