Tonight Lucullus Dines With Lucullus

The snowstorm was good for two heave-ho bouts of shoveling — driveway, front walk and steps, the sidewalk around two sides of a big lot. When you work like that, you don’t really feel hungry immediately. It hits you after the nap.

I was almost going to punt and poke around in the freezer, seeing as it was just me, but then I remembered Lucullus — the Roman scholar, soldier, statesman and epicure — and felt abashed. Anyway, when do I get the chance on some random night to roll up my sleeves and cook?

This came out of the French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking. I don’t recall any other onion soup that has you simmer the onions in a cup of port.


“…the tale runs that his steward, hearing that he would have no guests for dinner, served only one not especially impressive course. Lucullus reprimanded him saying, ‘What, did not you know, then, that today Lucullus dines with Lucullus?’ ”

It should be cool enough to eat now.


14 thoughts on “Tonight Lucullus Dines With Lucullus

  1. Exactly. When Lucullus dines with Lucullus, or just IS with Lucullus, all the more we need to be extra special to ourselves and show love for ourselves.

    This I was trying to do when I lived alone for a long while. Not that I was capable of doing much, culinarily speaking, but I tried to roll up my sleeves, as you say, and cook. French sauces and soups, gosh, the hardest things on earth, but being Italian and loving pasta, I tried to cook ‘good’ pasta sauces, the core of any good pasta dish, and harder than one might think at first. Certainly not as hard as onions simmered in a cup of port, but still, at least to me, hard.

    • I love a good sauce that coats the pasta just right and you’re right, it’s not a simple thing. Though anyone can toss some diced tomatoes in a pan and season them acceptably, thank Heaven or imagine how many more people would be eating out of cans.

      Italian-Americans in New England always call pasta sauce “gravy” and it took me a long time to stop imagining a big tureen of grayish glop (I dated an Albino Italian from Boston for five years, he looked like a photographic negative of a Neapolitan hod carrier, and when the men in his family reached their teens his grandfather would solemnly teach them to “make the gravy,”)

  2. PS
    Your contribution to the discussion over at my blog was awesome. I have translated the whole conversation into Italian, as a 1rst comment to the Italian post, with links to the bloggers and credits. Thank you, Mama Sled.

    • Here is how it is done

      Slice three sweet onions thinly
      Warm a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of butter over the lowest flame imaginable
      Sweat the onions for 20-25 minutes till soft — stir a lot
      turn up heat & stir till caramelized but not burnt, about 5 min
      throw in teaspoon minced garlic and saute 2 min
      Pour in a cup of port and simmer till half the wine is evaporated
      Pour in 6 cups of stock (I used vegetable broth from TJs and some veggie bouillon cubes), add a bay leaf, salt, pepper, simmer half hour
      Toast some thin slices of baguette (or whatever good bread) very lightly
      Slice some gruyere or Basque cheese thinly
      When soup has simmered, pour over baguette slices in soup crocks, layer cheese on top and broil 2 minutes.

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