How American cheesecake was born in ancient Rome

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Rome (CNN) – The food was easy to prepare and as good as any other meal, best sprinkled with poppy seeds and served in boxes.

The ancient Romans celebrated a delicious honey cheesecake called Savillum, which is believed to be the true ancestor of the modern US style cheesecake.

Instead of Philadelphia’s tender beef, there’s fresh ricotta goat’s milk straight from the shepherds. It was worshiped by slaves, chiefs and warriors.

The first menu in history depicts the preparation of a delicacy around fresh cheesecake in the third year BC, and was written by an ancient Roman senator, soldier and artist. write a story.

“Cato the Elder is not only a great writer and genius, he is delicious and he supports local traditions and cuisine,” said Giorgio Franchetti, an ancient Roman culinary expert and author. of the book “Dining With The Ancient Romans.”

According to Franchetti, Cato reserved food for his favorite cake, Savilium, in one of his major works, “De Agri Cultura.” Yes, he told CNN, “I really like Roman families.”

A cake with legs


US style cheesecake is popular in Italy.

Silvia Marchetti

There are many stories and legends twisted about how this famous dish was made, says Franchetti, but he claims only one of his Roman teachers was right.

Thanks to the expansion of the Roman Empire, Savillum spread everywhere, finally in England and then, centuries later, in the New World, growing with time and change. in local areas.

“Savillum’s legs are so long, he’s traveled the world,” said Franchetti, who knows ancient Roman cuisine. “At the time, the Romans practiced the technology of cooking and preparation, taking their colonies, which spread from the Middle East to Britannia.

“It’s a simple cake made with everyday ingredients: goat’s milk, honey and eggs.

According to another legend, the ancient Greeks made a “rudimentary” generic dessert of cheese and honey before the Romans, in the 8th century BC, and used it to give flavor. strong encouragement to Olympic athletes.

However, the two Greek teachers describing the pot, according to Franchetti, did not give specific details as to how it was made and how it was made, only to give a proper food.

Even if Greece had been lifted and purified by the Roman conquerors, he added, the Romans were the founders of the Savillum world, not the Greeks.

‘Take good care of the deep server’

Savillum works

A well -cooked Savillium looks like an omlet.

Giorgio Franchetti

In his recipe, Cato gives straightforward instructions and tips for making cheesecake.

He said to combine half a pound of flour (1 Roman pound about 11.5 ounces or 327 grams), 2.5 pounds of goat salt (aka ricotta), one egg and a quarter of a pound of rice. honey in a terracotta vessel greased with olive oil. cover the lid and set on fire.

Cato is right to train deep and thick. “Once cooked, pour honey and sprinkle poppy seeds on top, then return to the heat to finish cooking before serving,” the menu says. .

Savillum was served without a spoon, as the Romans liked to eat with their fingers, but it was cut lightly. It is eaten in the diet before the end as a snack.

Cato’s Savillum can be tasted today, along with other ancient Roman dishes re-created at elite “Roman feasts” organized at archaeological sites in Italy by Franchetti and “archeo-cook” Cristina Conte, who re -created the delights from the eternal city.

Personal events often see diners dressed in traditional Roman clothing for an imperial vibe.

“Savillum is very simple and quick to make, only two hours, much less than cheesecake,” says Conte, who cooks old Roman dishes at home with his family. “It tastes good — sour because of the honey and salt.”

“It’s a very simple dish that is always enjoyed by lowly and royal families. I cook it in the oven or wood stove when possible, and I like to serve it warm, when be angry and fat. ”

When cooked to perfection, Savillum is like a round pancake or omelet, slightly yellow and crispy. Rome did something different with apples and pears, as did Conte.

Legacy of Italy

Savillum bites the ancient Roman road_

The Romans liked to eat cubed cheesecake as a snack in between meals.

Giorgio Franchetti

Today, Savillum’s legacy can be found in traditional Italian cuisine.

Most crabs and cakes made with cheese products such as ricotta, mascarpone and burrata can be seen by their family as it is.

Naples ’pastiera, Sicilian cassata and“ granny cake, ”are family -friendly with ricotta, lemon and pine nuts. Like Sardinian seadas made with pecorino lamb salt and honey, Latium’s Laurina tart with ricotta and chocolate, and sfuagghiu from the Sicilian village of Polizzi Generosa, made with Send sweet lamb cheese, candied pumpkin, cinnamon and blood.

Then there’s the Italian style cheesecake. Thanks to the world, Savillum has returned to his roots with American cheesecake, which has been transformed into an Italian delicacy.

of the robiola cakea cake made with a special soft cheesecake popular in North Asia, similar to New York’s traditional cheesecake – rooted in Philadelphia silk cake – and has a base made with custom -made cookies.

While delicious Indigenous foods are cooked – from cannolo to Tiramisu, including a variety of cheesecakes – Italians have come to worship American cheesecake, not forgetting its Roman origins.

There are many hotels, pastry shops and restaurants now on their menu, not just in the big tourist cities that cater to the tastes of foreigners. Today you can find dishes with cheesecake and in the deepest Sicily, considered the “kingdom” of Italian delicacies.

‘Reincarnated’ homecoming


Simona Orlandi: U.S. cheesecake is “comforting and refreshing” in the Italian summer.

Silvia Marchetti

Biscomania is a niche coffee shop and cookie shop in the small rural town of Capena, close to Rome. She prepares traditional US cheesecakes and Italian cheeses with pistachio, nutella and red fruit. Philadelphia salt, mascarpone, ricotta or yoghurt, depending on the taste of the customers, is buying it for special occasions.

And while most cheesecakes require baking, the rest is arranged in the fridge, without having to cook.

“It’s not a part of American growth,” said Biscomania owner Simona Orlandi. “The cheesecake baked like a semifreddo is refreshing and delicious in the summer.

“Outside of the US, unbaked cheesecake is probably the most popular among Italians. Because it doesn’t require preparation, cooking and yeast, families have started making it in the kitchen. home.

Because of the regular filling of Italian food, Orlandi says to avoid eating cheesecake as a last resort as it requires, in his opinion, a lot of power. digestive.

Franchetti herself is a cheesecake fan and says her story shows that food can be an archaeological treasure.

“While we may be missing out on what Savillum has every now and then, we clearly know that it has been refilled with cheesecake, which has re -spread anglophone culture all over the world.

“The ancient Romans invented and published it many years ago, and today the Romans have it again from places under the Roman Empire.

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