Tuesday, November 01, 2011

What happened to sugar cube replicas of the Forum?

UPDATE: Today this page has gotten hundreds of hits...and I can't figure out why! Would any of the visitors like to let me know? The Boy and I are terribly curious!

The Boy has been working on a project for Latin class for the last couple of weeks. It's due tomorrow, and he just finished putting the finishing touches on it. Remember making those sugar cube models of pyramids and other classical buildings when you were in school? The Boy was having none of that. Instead he found The Classical Cookbook on my shelves and picked out the most complicated (non-lead based) recipe he could find. [Warning: violation of the seven motifs of disgust ban forthcoming.] This involved finding such things as fish sauce and animal intestines (cleaned and preserved in salt, these are otherwise known as natural sausage casings).

He managed all of this on his own, including the calling around to find the sausage casings. Tonight he needed to grind the meat and put it all together. Did I mention that our kitchen was demolished about 2 weeks ago? I suspect the Romans had better plumbing than I currently have in my kitchen (not hard, as I have none at the moment). And all the useful equipment is packed away, requiring serious improvisation (just what did the Romans use to fill their sausage casings I wonder?).

The Boy requested my help. Why, I wondered aloud. He never needs my help on school stuff. "Because you're adventurous." "So are you!" I shot back. The "I've never made sausage" plea did not play with me, I've never made it either. Why could he not need me to help him artfully arrange photos on a poster or glue little trees to a sugar cube creation? Why, oh why, was I dealing with raw pork and a tangle of scraggly casings — without benefit of running water, counters or a pastry bag?

I have to admit he was right, there was no way to do this solo with the equipment we had on hand. It needed two sets of hands.

We did it. We are adventuresome. We are able to improvise. We laughed a lot. They look great. I hope his Latin class enjoys the fruits of our labors.


  1. This involved finding such things as fish sauce and animal intestines (cleaned and preserved in salt, these are otherwise known as natural sausage casings).

    Do they sell fish sauce in regular supermarkets, or did you have to go to Chinatown? There was a seemingly ancient bottle of the stuff in the kitchen of a Jesuit community I once lived in, but I never saw anyone use it - and, to this day, I'm not sure what to use it for!

  2. Turns out they sell fish sauce at Genuardi's (sausage casings took more work to find) and we now have a giant bottle of the stuff which will undoubtedly similarly age on the shelf here!

    It's used in Thai cuisine, I know, but we don't make a lot of that here as I'm allergic to peanut and coconut. We'll have to find something to use it for, once the kitchen is back on line.

  3. ahhh, the fine fine aroma of fermented fish in a bottle. glad I was not invited over for sausage, that would have tested my adventurous soul.

  4. This is the most wonderful thing to read first thing in the morning. Well, I do feel a bit queasy, but I love the enthusiasm, pursuit and completion of this!!

  5. Anonymous5:29 PM

    I love it! Would you please post pictures?

  6. Alas, there aren't any photos!

  7. A teacher posted the link to your blog on a listserv for Latin teachers. So now there are many of us who are checking it out to see what a parent has to say about a Latin/Classics class assignment. You're now very popular.... :)