Hors D’Oeuvres

Following a conversation with my uncle, an education on the Zodiac by Trimalchio, and some light appetizers, we were astounded by another impossible dish.

In the wake of the hounds came a massive tray with a large wild boar atop it. The boar wore a pilleus (freedman’s cap) and had two sportellae palmulis textae (little palm-woven baskets) hanging from its tusks; one held dry dates, the other held fresh ones. I was amazed at the little piglets made from simnel cake surrounding the boar, showing that we had a scrofa (sow) before us.

Carver was not called for this dish, since he mangled the fowls, and instead a large, bearded man came forth. He had gold bands and a hunting coat and he drew his hunting knife to open the boar. After a few slashes, birds flew out of the boar and fluttered around the room, before being caught by slaves. “Etiam videte,” Trimalchio said, “quam porcus ille silvaticus lotam comederit glandem” (Now we see what fine acorns the woodland boar has been eating). It was a most impressive trick, and I laughed and clapped with the rest, but I had an unpleasant feeling about how those birds were put in there. I also worried about how long those birds were in there, and decided I did not want to eat from that boar. Next, some slave boys brought the dates around to the guests.


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