The hamburger is often thought of as a relatively recent innovation – a treat associated with summer barbecues, football terraces or a late-night visit to the Golden Arches.
However, historical evidence suggests that our forebears were flipping burgers as early as 1,500 years ago. Inside the ancient Roman cookbook Apicius, compiled by an anonymous author in the fourth or fifth century AD, you’ll find a dish named isicia omentata, which sounds remarkably similar to a recipe for a slightly-upmarket beef burger.
Like their modern descendants, these patties would have been sold at fast food establishments across the Roman empire known as thermopolia, perhaps as a lunchtime treat.
This particular take on the recipe will make a total of four burgers. There’s also the option of wrapping each patty in caul fat for an extra meaty flavour.
Recipe courtesy of Richard Moss at museumcrush.org
This recipe was first published in the May 2020 issue of BBC History Magazine – now on sale!