COOKING APICIUS, Roman Recipes for Today by Sally Granger, published by Prospect Books, ISBN 1-903-01844-7, is a book for DOING. I’m so glad I purchased this book. The author has been involved with Apicius on a larger scale in an academic tome that I want badly, but was too expensive for me. So I took a chance on this smaller and much less expensive book and am THRILLED!
The recipes are clear. There is a marvelous section at the front of the book about the history and what various items were and how they were made and used. Then she gets into the cookbook section. Here we are given insight into techniques that were period and the modern methods that will give similar results with less effort.
I can see myself cooking from this book and not telling my family that they are eating a recipe from the first century AD! How cool is that?
Yes, for a person wanting to cook more authentically for early period, I very highly recommend this practical and delightfully informative little book!
DAILY LIFE IN THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE by Marcus Rautman is a good starting place for anyone interested in the Byzantine Empire. Sections on every imaginable aspect of daily living can be found in this book. The author gives references for further reading by way of chapter end-notes and a Bibliography. The book includes nice clear maps, a glossary of terms, index, list of rulers and their years in power, timeline, and illustrations. Chapter titles and headings are bold and informational and make finding a specific bit of information easier for the reader.
As an over-view of life in Byzantium the book is naturally limited in how deeply it can delve into each topic. In spite of this, the amount of detail the author has brought together is quite good. What is more, the types of information given serve well to help the reader imagine the details of life for a person living in the Byzantine Empire. For topics I have read about more extensively, I found this author to have given a good balanced over-view of what is known. I may update my evaluation of the book as I read further in new topics but as of this writing I approve of this book.
I highly recommend this book both for home school use (middle school or higher) and for the purposes of developing a persona to play in the Society for Creative Anachronisms.
I hope a good over-view book like this one will encourage more persons to opt for Byzantine in the SCA.