The late-Roman Codex Theodosianus, which is a collection of Roman laws, mentions that a Roman soldier should be equipped with a buccellatum ac panem, vinum quoque atque acetum, sed et laridum, carnem verbecinam, or “hardtack and bread, wine too and vinegar, but also bacon and mutton”(VII.4.6). Hardtack, vinegar and mutton were to be enough for two days, and then the soldier was to use bread, wine and bacon.
Hardtack (bucellatum) was a simple cookie made of flour, salt and water, of high hardness, baked twice at low temperature for a long time, so as to be sure that no moisture will get inside. Such food was ideal in the army, where adverse weather conditions could be expected. From the name of the biscuit even the used term bucellarii. comes
Bucellatum was eaten dry, dipping in wine posca – a popular Greek-Roman drink mixed with wine, vinegar, water and herbs – or stew.
To prepare a Roman rusks you will need:
- 350g wholemeal flour
- 75ml water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10g butter or 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Mix flour, salt and butter. Then add water, whisking in the process to create a whipped dough (the biscuit must be very dry finally). Roll out the dough and squeeze round (sources say Roman rusks were round). Make holes in the dough allowing air to come in and out of moisture. Place the cakes on a tray and place in the oven preheated to 120°C. Bake rusks for 2.5 hours, shifting them. Then leave the cakes in the oven for a few hours to cool. If the rusks are not completely dry, bake until the expected result.