[Sca-cooks] Crocodile was Magpies

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Tue Mar 4 15:46:10 PST 2008

> Johnna Holloway wrote:
>>Interesting. Can you provide the recipes and text that show that
>>the classical Romans ate snakes and crocodiles? Not medicinal, but 
>>banquet fare for the crocodiles and snakes. Apicius oddly doesn't list 
>>or crocodiles, so what source does?
>>Also What medieval Arab and Chinese recipes can you offer for eating
>>Which texts and which recipes? Again non-medicinal references would
>>be helpful.
>>Dragon wrote:
>>>Considering all the other unusual things (by modern standards) that
>>>the upper class Romans consumed, I would be surprised that
>>>Crocodile and snakes of various kinds are not among them.
>>>Chinese medicinal texts may be enlightening. In China to this day,
>>>food is still considered medicinal and what you eat is considered
>>>to affect the balance of health in many of the same ways that the
>>>Arab influenced health theories of the Medieval period espoused.
> ---------------- End original message. ---------------------
> You are misinterpreting what I said. I did not say I had
> documentation for any of this.

The problem is you have presented an opinion, but you can not explain how 
you arrived at that opinion by documenting the sources that provide the 
logical framework for that opinion.  Without such supporting references, an 
opinion is a flight of fantasy.

One of the key things about this list is we will ask for recipes and 

> What I did say is that they ate a ton of odd things so it would not
> surprise me if they did eat these things also.  There are historical
> accounts of all sorts of exotic species being brought to Rome for
> gladiatorial games (no, I don't have any references handy, this is
> from memory). It is not a far stretch to think that once these
> animals had been dispatched in the games that they would have been eaten.

While some Romans ate a number of oddities, some of which were imported at 
great expense, the common diet was cereal grain, wine and olive oil, 
supplemented with local vegetables, meat and fish.  I think this can be 
safely demonstrated with readings of Apicius, Cato, Columella, and Pliny. 
While there are a number of references to some of the stranger things eaten 
in Rome and even some recipes, to my knowledge, there is no references to 
them having eaten crocodiles and snakes.

And my memory reminds me that the game killed in the arena was fed to the 
slaves, but I don't happen to have a source for that so I consider it 
suspect.  I probably need to read Donald G. Kyle's Spectacles of Death in 
Ancient Rome to see if he has any pointers to the information.

> I not specifically aware of any texts in Chinese medicine that regard
> use of the crocodile as I have not done any such research. However,
> through a casual knowledge of modern Chinese medicinal practices, I
> know they use a lot of reptiles including all sorts of lizards,
> cobras and other snakes. So again, I would not be surprised if they
> did use crocodiles in some medicinal soup. Virtually every edible
> item in traditional Chinese culture is associated with some sort of
> supposed medical benefit.
> Dragon

While you may be correct, your knowledge is "casual" and unsupported, so 
that it is difficult to gauge the accuracy of your opinion.


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list