Travel with us to Naples to find Villa di Oplontis, home to Nero’s wife Poppea, undoubtedly hosted many feasts where nobles and politicians would have displayed their wealth and power and conducted business. Roman feasts were reputedly quite decadent. There are stories of guests who, upon entering, would be offered candied door mice from large glass jars. While dinner party guests lounged on beds in the triclinium, eating with their hands, servants would have been busy offering them trays laden with food and wine.
Seafood would be at the ready in large tanks along the water’s edge. In one of several sitting rooms in Villa di Oplontis is a fresco of a delicate cake displayed on an ornate serving dish. This may be a culinary ancestor to the “Cassata Siciliana” – a cake made of ricotta cheese, honey and nuts, wrapped in a thin layer of Marzipan with pieces of fruit to decorate the glazed surface.