When the emperor Trajan was in Parthia, at a distance of many days' journey from the sea, Apicius sent him fresh oysters, which he had kept so by a clever contrivance of his own; real oysters, not like the sham anchovies which the cook of Nicomedes, king of the Bithynians, made in imitation of the real fish, and set before the king, when he expressed a wish for anchovies, (and he too at the time was a long way from the sea.) And in Euphron, the comic writer a cook says:—
A. I am a pupil of Soterides,
Who, when his king was distant from the sea
Full twelve days' journey, and in winter's depth,
Fed him with rich anchovies to his wish,
And made the guests to marvel.
B. How was that?
A. He took a female turnip, shred it fine
Into the figure of the delicate fish;
Then did he pour on oil and savoury salt
With careful hand in due proportion.
On that he strew'd twelve grains of poppy seed,
Food which the Scythians love; then boil'd it all.
And when the turnip touch'd the royal lips,
Thus spake the king to the admiring guests:
"A cook is quite as useful as a poet,
And quite as wise, and these anchovies show it."