Many people all over the world enjoy the pastry we know as a donut. The first base recipe we see of the sweet pastry or Globi is written by a roman official, Cato the Elder. However, it has greatly changed from the original roman recipe.
The original globi was a mix of flour and cheese, fried, and drizzled with honey or guram if the Romans wanted a umami flavor. Based on the diet, it would have more than likely been made with ricotta cheese, from goats’ milk. Their flour would have been spelt or alica. ‘They would mix the flour and cheese by hand, kneading it to a dough. The dough would then be balled and placed one or two at a time in a hot copper pot with enough fry oil to reach about the middle of the balls. Two rods would be used to turn the dough balls, as well as remove them (De Agri cultura Cato, Translation by W. D. Hooper and H. B. Ash, 1934). The globi would then be drizzled with honey, nuts or seeds for a sweet taste or guram for umami.
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In the modern day, most people won't have even dreamed of eating a fish sauce donut, much less done so. Modern donuts can be very sweet, fluffy pastries that can come in many shapes and flavors. These differences are ones that can be easily spotted, the differences in recipe however can only be tasted. There are two main differences within globi, the first being that it was not fully cooked. Most times, it would have a gooey center, giving it a different texture. We also have evolved flour over time. We would not have the same flour as their spelt.
We first see the recipe for globi written in a roman officer's book of farming. De Agri Cultura was written by a roman politician Marcus Porchius Cato, or Cato the Elder. He was a politician with a successful military background. He also had a great passion for history, writing more books based on Rome’s traditions and culture. “He was extremely passionate about preserving Roman culture and he liked to know a little bit about everything and to ensure that others also knew he knew a little bit about everything (-SannieB)”. De Agri Cultura, On Agriculture, was based on farming, well also including basic recipes. It is believed that Cato wrote De Agri Cultura in 106 BCE, however people were making globi before then.
It's strongly the upper middle class and rich would have been the most likely to enjoy globi. Even as a simple recipe, it was rare a person outside of money would be able to obtain ground flour and honey. Honey was considered a delicacy, even though many Romans were beekeepers. They had to import honey because of demand. Plus it added to the rich circles’ need to have flair and glory in their feasts. The upper of Rome would often throw extragaine feasts and parties. They’d serve strange, pricey, and mostly imported meats, cheese, and have fresh fruits. The middle class and lower would mainly eat bread, dried fruits, cheese, and meats from street vendors. It's also possible that bakeries and vendors would have been selling globi, though there is less evidence of that.
Evidence does show how these little pastries became a part of many cultures, and traveled the world wide. What started in Rome and Greece, globi’s cousin Loukoumades, made with milk rather than cheese, ended up in Arabian culture. The Arabians made them with unsweetened yeast and sugary glaze. These fritters begin to spread across europe, each culture adding their own spin on it. The donut came to America by boat with the Dutch, where it originally gained it’s hole. Donuts then became very popular all over, even being fried and taken overseas for soldiers serving in world wars. Donuts have greatly changed and evolved into the sweet breakfast pastry many know today.
Globi was a simple dish that could be enjoyed many ways, by many people of status. Thanks to Cato the Elder, it can be known as an origin to the modern day donut and help to preserve the rich culture of Rome. With a little bit of flour and cheese, fried and sweetened, the world gained a popular dessert, each culture with it’s own twist.
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