Epityrum or Olive Paste

This is a dish from antiquity. In Greece and Rome this dish was typically served with cheese which is where epityrum gets its name: epityrum = over cheese. It is delicious served with bread as well.

Original (1)

Epityrum album, nigrum, varium sic facito. Ex oleis albis, nigris variisque nucleos eicito. Sic condito. Concidito ipsas addito oleum, acetum, coriandrum, cuminum, feniculum, rutam, mentam. In orculum condito, oleum supra siet. Ita utito.

Translation (2)

Make green, black, or varied epityrum this way. Pit the green, black or varied olives. Season them thus. Chop them, and add oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, rue, and mint. Put them in a small jar, with oil on top, and they are ready to use.

NOTE: “Rue is not to be used in pregnancy. The coumarins may cause photosensitivity and skin contact can cause a rash. Large doses may be poisonous.”(3) I have let it out of my redaction based on the above concerns.

My Redaction

  • 3 oz. Green Olives
  • 3 oz. Black Olives
  • 1 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Fennel Seeds
  • Cilantro (fresh coriander)
  • 2-3 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp. White Wine Vinegar

Gently toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan, watching and moving them constantly until they become fragrant. You can add the fennel seeds at the same time or use them untoasted.

Chop the olives until they are as big or small as you want them. I use this as a relish on cheese or bread so I usually chop them on the smaller side. You can leave them whole and serve them as a salad or appetizer.

Mince the cilantro and mint. Add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. I usually let this set for an hour or so in the refriderater so the flavors can get to know each other.



  1. Cato. Liber de Agricultura. On Agriculture. Translated by Harrison Boyd Ash. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, 1941-1955.
  2. Giacosa, Ilaria Gozzini. A Taste of Ancient Rome. Translated by Anna Herklotz. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 1992. Print
  3. Mabey, Richard. The New Age Herbalist. Simon & Schuster Inc. New York. 1988. Print

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s