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Barley is one of the most ancient aliments of man, a fact that is proved by a custom of the Athenians, mentioned by Menander,1 as also by the name of "hordearii,"2 that used to be given to gladiators. The Greeks, too, prefer barley to anything else for making polenta.3 This food is made in various ways: in Greece, the barley is first steeped in water, and then left a night to dry. The next day they parch it, and then grind it in the mill. Some persons parch it more highly, and then sprinkle it again with a little water; after which they dry it for grinding. Others shake the grain from out of the ear while green, and, aftær cleaning and soaking it in water, pound it in a mortar. They then wash the paste in baskets, and leave it to dry in the sun; after which they pound it again, clean it, and grind it in the mill. But whatever the mode of preparation adopted, the proportions are always twenty pounds of barley to three pounds of linseed,4 half a pound of coriander, and fifteen drachmæ5 of salt: the ingredients are first parched, and then ground in the mill.

Those who want it for keeping, store it in new earthen vessels, with fine flour and bran. In Italy, the barley is parched without being steeped in water, and then ground to a fine meal, with the addition of the ingredients already mentioned, and some millet as well. Barley bread, which was extensively used by the ancients, has now fallen into universal disrepute, and is mostly used as a food for cattle only.

1 The barley was, originally, the prize given to the victor in the Eleu- sinian games.

2 Or "barley-fed."

3 The ἀλφίτον of the Greeks.

4 This, as Fée observes, would tend to give it a very disagreeable flavour.

5 "Acetabulum."

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  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), COMMENTARIUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TRIBUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), VERONA
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