Patrick Rodgers and Meals of Antiquity to Host Babylonian Pop-up Dinner

Royal Emmer at Meals of Antiquity Babylonian Dinner
Royal Emmer at Meals of Antiquity Babylonian Dinner

Philadelphia-area audiences know Patrick Rodgers for his Dancing Ferret Concerts goth events. Television viewers will remember Rodgers for his 2011 appearances on CNN, Fox News and The Colbert Report when he exposed Wells Fargo Bank for its illegal foreclosures. On March 1, however, Rodgers’ new enterprise, Meals of Antiquity, hosts a pop-up dinner in Old City’s Lucha Cartel with a Babylonian-inspired menu that he says “was 4,000 years in the making.” The March 1 event is sold out, but you can call to check for last-minute openings (Lucha Cartel, 207 Chestnut St, 267.761.9209). Also, Rodgers is hosting a second Babylonian dinner on March 15.

The idea driving Rodgers’ Meals of Antiquity, along with its menus’ designer, Colin Barth, is to find rare, lost cuisines and re-create them accurately for modern palates (authentic yes, but Barth gives an example of the Babylonian’s use of overpowering licorice flavors, hull-free barley, strong bitter greens and ground-up locusts that might not be amenable to present day tastes). Barth stated that he’s been planning the menu since November 2014, researching the various yeasts, beets, truffles and carrots indigenous to the Babylon of 4,000 years ago, hunting down un-pearled emmer-heavy recipes that were often fragmentary at best, and whipping up a meal with ingredients found in Middle Eastern menus such as dates, pomegranate, and coriander.

In mid-February, I, along with my Glamorosi Magazine partner, Reese Amorosi, were among the media invited to attend the run-through for this Babylonian feast, and found it to be as intriguing as it was tasty. There were two light yet satisfying soups to choose from: an almond and flax soup and a barley and leek soup. There were three salads: barley salad with Romaine lettuce, shallot, pomegranate, flax seed and saffron dressing;  cucumber with pistachios and chick peas in a saffron dressing; and a sweet-and-sour salad with apples, yogurt, fennel seeds and sesame. For the main course, the vegan option was “Royal Emmer,” a blend of pickled raisins and shallots with tangy pomegranates, nuts and light truffle oil; the meat dish choices were a hearty “Cypress Duck” with ground juniper, apricot, mustard greens and split emmer pilaf or “Black” Lamb Skewers in a marinade of yogurt, garlic and nigella sativa (a flowering plant with seeds similar to black cumin).

For desert, the offerings were a spiced emmer cake in beer and honey along with a mersu – a rolled combo of dates, prunes and nuts – served three ways, just how the Nusku light and fire-god of Nippur liked it.

The meal was perfectly paired with Midas Touch Ale designed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and an archeologist, Dr. Patrick McGovern.

In addition to producing Meals of Antiquity, Rodgers will be hosting the Dancing Ferret Concerts’ 20th anniversary at Philly’s Trocadero on April 15, and is starting an altogether different event, a Philadelphia Renaissance Fair inspired by its multi-cultural origins, for May 2015 in Fairmount Park.

Photo ©Reese Amorosi 2015

Posted on Sunday, March 1, 2015