Io Saturnalia, 2022

So we’re getting ready for our annual Roman feast, a few days from now. The nice thing about Saturnalia is you can kind of fudge the date, a bit before the solstice or a bit after, your choice. This year, we’ll feast on the 22nd, but I had to get the pork marinating today. We’re making ofellae (pork belly) Ostian style (Apicius 7.4.1), and the marinade has got dill seed, celery seed, cumin seed, peppercorns, bay leaves, and asafoetida, along with a good portion of fish sauce. My hands, even after scrubbing, smell AMAZING — if you like asafoetida and fish sauce, which I do.

Those are the smells of Saturnalia, for me, along with rue and barley bread and the sweetest wine you can find. We used to get passito, but couldn’t find it this year, so we’re going to try cooking with ice wine. Which would probably be considered a waste of good ice wine by some, but to each their own. We’ll have some red Sicilian for drinking.

The tree is up, Sol Invictus at the top. He’s holding up pretty well, considering that I made him 17 or 18 years ago out of papier-mache (with actual gold leaf!), and had only minimal idea what I was doing.

Sol Invictus can’t wait to open his presents, which are, uh, clouds? I dunno. Seems likely.

We’re not actual pagans, particularly (our mantlepiece full of Greek and Roman statuary notwhithstanding). We’re just nerdy could-have-been-Classicists who have a fascination with ancient cooking and don’t feel quite comfortable with Xmas. It’s nice to commemorate the darkest point of the year, however, as well as the long journey back out of it, to gather your people warmly around you, eat some weird food together, and watch the lights twinkle.

The wheel always turns; the darkness isn’t forever. Stay warm, friends.

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