Spice:The Final Frontier, What Spice Did Roman Gladiators Rub On Their Skin Before Entering the Arena?



Gladiators rubbed the fronds on their skin seeking to benefit from its calming effect and it’s ability to prevent excessive sweating due to nervousness. (Maybe that’s where the expression “never let them see you sweat” comes from!)




If you said “dill” you are correct!
The first recorded mention of dill comes in the ancient Egyptian medical text called the “Ebers Papyrus” written in 1550 BCE. Dill has a long history of being used medicinally for such digestive ailments as flatulence, constipation, and hiccups. In the middle ages magicians used it to ward off witches.
Dill originated in the eastern Mediterranean conveniently near the region where the first dill pickles were created, but it really hit its culinary stride when traders made their way up to Scandinavia with it where it grew well and consequently became the most important food flavoring in that northern clime. The name dill itself is from the old Norse word “dilla” which means lull. A tea made from dill is still sometimes used to soothe colicky babies.
Interesting to us here in Pawling, is the moniker “meeting seed” which originates with the Quakers who gave their children dill seeds to chew during long church meetings due to its mild hunger-suppressant qualities.
The seeds, leaves, and flowers can all be used for cooking. Dill seeds, which are slightly bitter and reminiscent of caraway, are best used for slow cooking and added in the beginning stages of cooking. They are naturally high in mineral salts so they are often used in salt-free blends. The fringy leaves, called dill weed, to distinguish it from the seeds, is best used fresh. It pairs very well with salmon, of course, most famously as an indispensable ingredient of gravlax; but it’s also used to flavor mild cheeses and breads and is a nice addition to egg dishes or soup.


One thought on “Spice:The Final Frontier, What Spice Did Roman Gladiators Rub On Their Skin Before Entering the Arena?

  • August 17, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Loved The Article !!!

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