Snails, oysters or both?

It’s not every night that you get invited to a Roman Dinner! Fetch my toga Antoninus! Call in the peacocks, musicians and scantily clad slaves! What will be on the menu? Snails, oysters, or dare I say it, both?

The Annual Winter Roman Dinner was hosted by the Friends of the Australian National University Classics Museum on Friday 26 May. It took place at the Teatro Vivaldi Restaurant which is an intimate, theatrical and delightful venue on the university campus grounds:


I was invited to attend as guest of Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Minchin. It was a lovely opportunity to chat to Elizabeth over dinner, to celebrate my new role in Classics, and to reacquaint myself with the very dedicated Friends of the ANU Classics Museum. The Friends group has been operating since 1985, promoting the ANU Classics Museum and encouraging interest in antiquity in the wider community. The Friends are responsible for all of the wonderful fundraising for the museum and the acquisition of new items, including coins, vases and glass items.

The dinner speaker was Associate Professor McComas Taylor, speaking on the topic of ‘Salvēte/Namaste: A Sanskritist’s Response to the European Classics’. McComas was, as always, tremendously engaging, entertaining and informative.

The menu was very carefully designed to reflect ancient Roman cuisine so Mark (the owner of Vivaldi’s) was under careful instruction not to use any of the following: tomatoes, potatoes, citrus, sugar, pasta, pizza, rice, coffee, chocolate, peppers or zucchini.

Here is the specially adapted menu:

On Arrival

Bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar


Oysters with red vinegar

Tuna with oregano olives

Main Course

Duck legs with braised red cabbage

Lentils with carrots and celery

Roasted lamb stuffed with dates

Honeyed carrots, roasted parsnips and green beans


Honey cheesecake with fig sauce

Pears poached with red wine and honey

So the verdict was (drumroll please): oysters!

And the rest of the dinner was lovely too, especially the duck leg with braised red cabbage and lentils:


My warm thanks to Elizabeth for a delightful evening and celebration; to Marcel Dimo, the President of the Friends of the ANU Classics Museum and all of the friends for a terrific event.



The Friends:

The Museum:

The Restaurant:

Create your own Roman cuisine using: John Edwards, Roman Cookery, Hartley and Marks, Washington, 1986.

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