11 October 2011

11 October - Meditrinalia; Wine Cookies

"Wine new and old I drink,
Of illness new and old I am cured."

Today in ancient Rome was the festival of Meditrinalia, celebrating the end of the grape harvest and the wine into which it would be made.  The ritual of the day included mixing old wine with new - the new being something akin to grape juice or mustum - pouring a libation on the altar for the god or goddess in charge of the day, and drinking the rest.  The new wine was considered wholesome (non-inebriating), and - mixed with the old - was thought to have healing properties; hence the charm above, repeated as one drank.

If you are interested in how the libation would have been offered, see this page at Nova Roma.

Meanwhile, this is an excellent day, especially if the good weather holds, to visit a local winery and try a new bottle of wine (undiluted by grape juice, please).  Of its health-giving powers I cannot say, but St. Paul told St. Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach's sake, and who am I to go against Holy Writ?

These WINE COOKIES go nicely with a glass of good wine.

[you will need a tot of brandy and some anise extract, or the equivalent of anisette liqueur]

Grease 2 baking pans.
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, beat together 7 eggs and 1 cup of sugar until foamy.  Add either 2 teaspoons of brandy mixed with 1-1/2 teaspoons of anise extract OR 4 teaspoons of anisette liqueur.  Set aside.

In another bowl sift 6-1/2 cups of flour; add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.

Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture a little at a time, mixing well.  Turn out the dough onto a floured board and work in 1 cup of slivered almonds.  Work the dough into a log shape ('an overgrown cucumber' says the original recipe), place it on one of the greased baking pans and bake in preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Turn the log out onto a board (do not turn off the oven) and carefully, while it is hot, slice it with a sharp knife into one-inch thick slices.  Lay the slices on the second greased pan (depending on how many slices you have, you may need to grease another pan); bake again for about 3 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Then eschew elegance and dip them in your glass of wine.  It may not cure you, but by then, you won't care.

These will keep a long time - at least, so I am told.