Reader’s Guides

To invite the historical characters to join you, provide the sort of food that they will recognize and like. Here are some of their favorites, nibble-size, and perfect for serving to your book club.

The Confessions of Young Nero

The Confessions of Young Nero

Luckily for us, all Roman meals or get-togethers were not banquets.  For the Roman ambiance, you can have  finger food and satisfy authenticity as well as your guests. Wear long tunics and sandals.

Roman tidbits:

  • Green and black olives
  • Fresh cheese
  • Figs
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Fruit in season—grapes, apples, cherries, pears
  • Stuffed dates
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Nuts—walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Pork skewers
  • Walnut cake
  • Fricassee of roses—fresh rose petals, baked with rose water in small pastry shells


  • Spiced wine (winter)
  • Red or white wine
  • Nero’s ‘decocta neronis’—his melted and boiled snow drink—substitute sparkling water with an herb or flavoring

This will satisfy, unless you are planning a full-scale Roman banquet, in which case, you will need to round up three large couches arranged in a horseshoe shape…several small tables…and have a room big enough to hold all this and the many servers, courses,  platters and goblets it will require! And you will need a cookbook with recipes from Apicius.

Elizabeth I: A Novel by Margaret George

Elizabeth I: A Novel

Elizabeth liked sweets, but she enjoyed these other foods as well:

  • Miniature meat pies
  • Pickled herring and fruits on toast
  • Artichoke hearts baked with sherry, dates, and orange peel
  • Almond custard laced with rose water
  • Lemon tarts
  • Ale, wine
Helen of Troy by Margaret George

Helen of Troy

  • Honey cakes (baklava)
  • Small stuffed grape leaves
  • Figs, raisins, dates
  • Olives
  • Fig spread on goat cheese
  • Goat and sheep cheese, feta cheese
  • Date nut bread
  • Grapes, Melon
  • Edible or candied flowers
  • Pomegranate juice (blend)
  • Apricot nectar
  • Wine
Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George

Mary Called Magdalene

  • Dates, figs, raisins, nuts (including pistachios & almonds)
  • Olives
  • Pita bread and hummus
  • Olive spread
  • Fig spread on goat cheese
  • Date nut bread
  • Grapes, Melon
  • Goat and sheep cheese
  • Grape juice
  • Apricot nectar
  • Yogurt drinks: pomegranate, date, grape, mint
  • Wine
The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George

The Memoirs of Cleopatra

  • Gummi ‘snakes’
  • Figs, dates
  • Olives
  • Fig spread on goat cheese
  • Olive spread
  • Grapes, Melon
  • Date nut bread
  • Edible or candied flowers
  • Grape juice
  • Apricot nector
  • Beer
  • Wine

Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles

Scottish phase of her life

  • Scones
  • Shortbread
  • Oatcakes
  • Marmalade
  • Scotch whisky (single malt)

French phase of her life:

  • Cheeses
  • Strawberry tartlets
  • Wine
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

The Autobiography of Henry VIII

  • Beef sandwiches (cocktail size)
  • Smoked eel on toast (Henry loved eel)
  • Little meat turnovers
  • Plum pudding-cupcake size
  • Little mince pies
  • Tartlets
  • Ale
  • Wine