Roman cookshops had a wide counter opening onto the street so that customers could be served on the go. The charcoal-burning furnace was built into the counter before it angled into the shop, so the smoky fumes and enticing aromas would waft into the street. Some cookshops were small with standing room only, while others might offer tables and stools or even couches for a more leisurely dining experience. You could find a variety of meats, green vegetables, dried beans, and pastries and also a variety of beverages.
Although we get a glimpse into a cookshop in Caesarea in THE DEADLIEST HATE (see my blog of March 13, 2018), our first view into an Alexandrian cookshop comes in THE DEADLIEST LIE, when Miriam follows her brother, Binyamin, into a canyon of squalid buildings in the malignant Rhakotis quarter. I’ll let her describe the midnight encounter for you:
The front was tucked between a dilapidated tenement, its shutters bashed in, its door weathered to silver, and an empty warehouse. A primordial giant as menacing as a Cyclops stepped outside to fill the beam of Binyamin’s lantern. Inasmuch as the giant wore an exomis (see next week’s blog), a short, left-sleeved, laborer’s tunic that bares the right side of the wearer’s chest, I fixed on the stump that had been his right arm. But when Binyamin swept the man’s face with his lantern, I was fascinated more by the purple wart perched on the end of his nose and the ichor trickling from his swollen eyes. Try as I might, I couldn’t tear my gaze from that weepy discharge. When he called to Binyamin, this time by name and with a roar that ripped the stillness, I recognized him as the illustrious ex-gladiator Sergius.
Why was Binyamin meeting Sergius and in the middle of the night no less? I can’t tell you everything, but you’ll be able to make a good guess if you click here.