The Getty Villa

Enjoy a dinner of elegant, delicately-flavored dishes inspired by the cuisine of Sicily during the 4th century B.C. and learn about one of the earliest foodies, Archestratus of Gela, whose humorous writings celebrated good eating and luxurious living.


Date: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Time: 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner following at 7:00 p.m. Guests must arrive no later than 6:45 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium and Inner Peristyle
Admission: Tickets are $125 each (includes wine).

Getty Villa
 
LECTURE: Archestratus's Life of Luxury: Seductive Meals from Sicily's Earliest Cookery Book
One of the world's first foodies, Archestratus was a native of Gela, a wealthy city on Sicily. He traveled around the Mediterranean in the 300s B.C. compiling local recipes and humorous, sharp-tongued anecdotes—especially on where to buy and how to cook the best fish. Going far beyond practical advice for the kitchen, his book was a provocation, written as a poem, that urged the reader to ignore the teachings of moderation in Homer and Plato and lead a life of unrestrained luxury. John Wilkins, professor of Greek culture at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom and translator of the fragments of Archestratus, shares his ideas about this influential yet little—known ancient text.

Getty Villa Inner Peristyle
 
DINNER: Culinary Pleasures of Ancient Sicily
The evening continues with a three-course dinner inspired by the writings of Archestratus, Sicilian travel-writer and Father of Gastronomy. In the Villa's Inner Peristyle, enjoy a three-course meal prepared under the direction of chef and food historian Sally Grainger based on her research into ancient Greek cuisine. Taste "Archestratus's delight," a medley of his most intriguing seafood dishes: sea bass with a Parthian silphium (known today as asafetida) and goat cheese topping; cumin-coated tuna fingers with a mackerel brine dip; and a parcel of swordfish wrapped in fig leaf. Following these delicacies, enjoy duck in a creamy sauce called hyposphagma. The feast concludes with plakous, a sweet known in ancient literature as the "child of Demeter" (goddess of agriculture), consisting of pastry layers filled with honey and soft cheese. The dinner also features Sicilian wines–which are not only delicious, but embody a mythological tradition that stretches back millennia.

Download the full menu (PDF, 1pp, 76 KB)
(Menu items subject to change without notice)

This program complements the exhibition Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome, which will be open for viewing after dinner between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.

About John Wilkins
John Wilkins is professor of Greek culture at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, where he has taught since 1989 after posts at the Universities of Liverpool and Aberdeen. In addition to his writings on Greek tragedy (Euripides: Heraclidae, Oxford 1993) and Greek comedy (The Boastful Chef, Oxford 2000), Wilkins has published numerous books on the history of food and nutrition in the Greco-Roman world including Archestratus: The Life of Luxury (with Shaun Hill, Totnes 1994), Athenaeus and his World (edited with D. Braund, Exeter 2000), Food in the Ancient World (with Shaun Hill, Oxford 2006), and Galen and the World of Knowledge (ed. with C. Gill, T. Whitmarsh, Cambridge 2009).

About Sally Grainger
Sally Grainger trained as a chef in her native Coventry, England, before developing an interest in the ancient world and taking a degree in ancient history from the University of London. Combining her professional skills with her expertise in the culinary heritage of the Greek and Roman world, she now pursues a career as a food historian, consultant, and experimental archaeologist. Grainger's recent projects include Roman food tastings at the British Museum in conjunction with the Life and Death in Pompeii exhibition currently on view, and a Roman feast at Girton College in Cambridge for the Cambridge Classics Society. Grainger recently acquired an M.A. in archaeology and is currently researching the extensive trade across the Roman world of the fermented fish sauce known as garum. With her husband, Christopher Grocock, she published a new translation of the Roman recipe book Apicius (Prospect Books). She has also published a companion volume of recipes, Cooking Apicius, and collaborated with historian Andrew Dalby on The Classical Cookbook (Getty Publications), which explores the culinary history of ancient Greece and Rome.

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How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.