Honey is, quite possibly, the most pure and natural sweetener ever. It was so revered in ancient times that Egyptian kings were buried with jars and jars of it to take with them into the afterlife. As a naturally occurring substance, honey predates humans by a long shot. It is no surprise, then, that recipes calling for it date back as far as our historical record goes. Unlike today, where high-fructose corn syrup is the sweetener of choice, one of the few sources of sweetness the Ancients knew was the nectar of the honeybee.
Honey was common in just about every bread recipe one could find in the Ancient world. The Apicius, which is a well preserved ancient Roman cookbook, is positively overflowing with recipes involving honey that range from the sweet Nut Tart and the Peaches in Honey recipe below, to savory Soft Boiled Eggs in Pine Nut Sauce. Possibly the greatest part about ancient cooking: simplicity.
Without all of the modern kitchen appliances and utensils that make cooking more complicated than it should be, ancient chefs concerned themselves with making the most of what they had at hand.
Roman Peaches in Honey
4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 /2 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried mint
2 Tablespoon olive oil
Start by toasting the cumin seeds in a frying pan over medium heat until they are fragrant.
Combine with pepper.
In a sauce pan, warm honey and vinegar together until combined, then stir in cumin and pepper mixture.
Simmer for a few minutes until everything is combined.
Toss the peach slices and olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Pour on honey and spice mixture, then bake at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes.
The sauce will boil down and thicken into a syrupy consistency.
Serve warm as a side-dish with pork and poultry.
This recipe with honey and peaches is delightfully spicy and unique. The trick is to bake the concoction at a low temperature for a long time. Doing so gives the peaches just the right consistency to compliment the spicy cumin and pepper honey sauce