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Cleverina Clogs
54859.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:49 am Reply with quote

you don't eat a doormouse unless it is made of chocolate!

54899.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:34 pm Reply with quote

Viewers of the new TV drama series ‘Rome’ may have been taken aback to hear, in the first episode, that the Romans ate dormice. Do not fear, however, for we are not talking here about our own sleepy, Alice-in-Wonderland dormouse which would have been just a mouthful, a canapé at a Roman cocktail party. No, the Romans ate the so-called edible or fat dormouse Glis glis which is about the same size as a guinea pig (which is still eaten in Peru). Like our native dormouse, the edible species puts on a great deal of fat in the autumn and hibernates for the winter so it is easy to ‘store’. The Romans kept these dormice alive in very large pots called dolia which in turn were kept in special dormouse gardens.

Petronius tells that dormice were glazed with honey and then in poppy seeds. However, the main source of recipes from Classical Roman times is De Re Coquinaria, by Marcus Gavius Apicius. This contains around 500 recipes, one of them for Glires, a dormouse stuffed with a forcemeat pf pork and small pieces of dormouse meat trimmings, all pounded with pepper, pine nuts, asafoetida, fish sauce and broth. The dormouse thus stuffed was put into an earthenware casserole and roasted in the oven, or boiled in the stock pot.

Edible dormice may also be killed, salted and kept in barrels and this still happens in Slovenia and Croatia where very large numbers are killed every year. For poor people dormice are a significant source of meat and individual hunters may kill up to 250 in a single night. But the hunting season is very short and this harvest does not seem to dent the population. Although edible dormice are not native to Britain, they were introduced here in 1902 by Lord Rothschild and their population is still based around what was his estate at Tring Park. Both edible and common or hazel dormice are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.


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