Learning Classics is a bit like putting on a magic pair of 3-D glasses. Once you start delving into the language and the culture, you'll start to see it all around you. This blog is a record of the club's journey through the worlds and language of ancient Rome and Greece... and through modern times, too, searching for the influence of classics all around us. You'll also be able to find vocab, home tasks, links and generally enlightening info here, too.

14 December 2014

A Night (OK, Afternoon) At The Museum

GCA Classics Club hit the BM
Having reached the requisite amount of points, we had an end-of-term treat: a treasure hunt at the British Museum. Despite my best efforts to get everyone lost/wear everyone out by climbing endless stairs, we succeeded in finding objects on our sheets and answering questions about them.

We also managed to take a sneaky look at the Elgin Marbles (not on our hunt!), and some students had an interesting discussion about whether they should be here, or back in their original home, Athens. Is the best place for these works of art in a specially-designed gallery, in a museum created to look like the Parthenon itself, or should artefacts be returned to their place of creation (and perhaps help Greece make some money from tourists going to see them)? The debate is summarised here, but what do you think?

Yep, more stairs...
Uh-oh, Tanvir's gone all intellectual.
We looked at works of art both Greek and Roman, including the Mildenhall Dish ("Miss, I can't look at it, it's too shiny!") and pottery paintings thousands of years old. But we also saw everyday artefacts that gave a glimpse into the lives of ancient people, including a receipt and a curse tablet ("Woah, she must have done something NASTY to deserve that!"). After all that treasure-hunting (and stair-climbing!), we rested a while in the Great Court, exchanged Saturnalia gifts and then said farewell to the Museum.

06 December 2014

Lesson 11 - Great Roman Bake Off

Today we busted out of the classroom and took over the food tech room. In our Great Roman Bake Off we tried our hand at making some of the food served at Roman feasts. All the recipes we used come from the cookbook written by Apicius (and you can find them  here).

Caroenum - mmm!

First of all, we took a quick tour of the ingredients available to the Roman cook. We tasted caroenum (condensed grape juice) and date syrup, and smelled fish sauce and dark sourdough bread.
Food processing, Roman style

Then we set to work on our recipes. Gungor, Gizem and Anna - armed with a mortar and pestle - worked on hypotrimma, a sweet, herby cheese dip. Much pounding, slicing and stirring later, and a wonderful dip emerged. And Trevelle discovered a new favourite food!


Max and Benedict took on the hefty challenge of ham and figs in pastry. A superb, delicious and beautifully presented dish - even if the cooking time went to the wire!
Cook the lettuce?!!

Bruno and Andrew tackled perhaps the most unusual dish to modern palates: lettuce patina, a sort of vegetable baked custard. Excellent seasoning with lots of pepper, the lettuce crunchy and the egg creamy, the dish was cooked to perfection, even if it wasn't to all tastes.

Cantharellus cibarius
Another patina for Jamelia and Lai'larni, this time mushroom flavoured. But not with ordinary mushrooms, but with wild ones like the Romans would have gathered. This dish went down very well: hardly any left after the tasting session.

Not your average semolina pudding

Nailaa and Trevelle produced a real crowd-pleaser, a honey-flavoured semolina pudding with almonds and raisins. It was delicious. I think I ate more than my fair share of that one.

Serious amounts of chopping required

And that leaves us with Kacper ("I don't cook") and Tanvir (kitchen whizz). Well, they obviously made a good team (or Tanvir did twice the work?) because their melon in a mint sauce went down a storm.

Once all the dishes were ready, the tasting and judging happened. Two winners were declared: ham and figs in pastry and the melon with mint. Well done Max, Benedict, Tanvir and Kacper!