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Torte of Dates & Almonds

A 16th century Italian Recipe, translated into English by Shannon Wanty

From Rosselli, Giovanne: Epulario: qual tratta del modo di cucinare ogni carne, vccelli, pesci, & ultra qualita di viuande (Altobello Salicato, Vinegia, 1596)

p30r/v Per fare torta de datali de mandole è d'altre cose. (To make a torte of dates of almonds and of other things.)

Take two pounds of whole almonds and crush them very well with the good fat of a fish, and a little rose water there pass through a strainer when it is well strained and have [ready] half a pound of good clean dates with a few dried raisins and dried figs well crushed in the mortar, and take a little Pellitorie of the Wall1, and well beaten and rubbed in good oil beaten with the knife, and take the said herb with some fat liver, and a good fish beaten together with this, then take two ounces of whole and clean pine nuts, and these will serve to accomplish to go over when you will make this torte filling, and [you] will take moreover dried black raisins and one pound of sugar with cinnamon, with ginger and a little saffron, and mix all these things incorporating in one ounce of maize flour, or meal, or starch a little of pike eggs as in the one above2 incorporated together with the said filling, and [you will] take the lasagne in the fashion which is shown in other chapters. And let [it] cook slowly, and when you will see that it is cooked put over a little sugar with rose water. And note that this torte should be shallow.3

1 Rosselli gives the term "spinace de petrosillo", Florio gives us "petroselino" for "petrosillo" - "stone Parselie or Ach of the rockes". I initially thought this was just a regional type of spinach because of the presence of "spinach", however, Gerrarde's Herball turns up Pellitorie of the Wall after his spinach entry (pp260-261), so while it would appear to be related to spinach it is in fact a distinct variety, and is not solely a regional variant but is known throughout Europe .

2 This bit was hard to translate and there's a reasonable chance I've done it wrong. The phrase is "di oua di luzo come è derto di sopra"

3 I am not entirely sure on this, but the phrase Rosselli gives is "Et nota che questa torta vuole essere bassa". In Florio, "bassa" is a low dale while "basso" refers to something that is low or "narrow as in Páno básso", and while it can also refer to something as "deep", I decided in this case to go with shallow. Feel free to disagree with me on this though.