When they were girls, Miriam and Phoebe would look forward to having a summer breakfast on the family’s third-floor, Egyptian-style roof garden. As adults they continued their friendship by having lunch there on Shabbat afternoons.
On one such occasion mentioned in The Deadliest Sport, Miriam lifted a tray with a crater of wine, a silver bowl of mint sauce, and an Oriental platter of the grilled lamb that she cobbled together for their lunch. She carved the meat and spread the slices across layers of chopped olives, dandelion greens, and the pita the cook had baked yesterday in anticipation of Shabbat. On Fridays, the cook would bake enough for both days.
Thanks to a recent refurbishment (actually of a kitchen in Pompeii), we can glimpse into Miriam’s kitchen, complete with its pots, pans, crockery, and grills. Instead of using gas or electric hobs, the Romans cooked their food over specially-made troughs of flaming charcoal. Hunks of meat, fish and vegetables were then laid on grills directly over the coals, while soups and stews simmered away in pots and pans that stood on special tripods to elevate them above the scorching embers.
The Deadliest Sport is a locked-room murder mystery in which Miriam is shrewd enough to imagine not just the who and why but also the how a jackal-faced slave was murdered in his own locked room in a sleazy waterfront inn. So come along, and I’ll tell the cook to prepare more than a few dandelion greens for you. Just click here to watch the book trailer.