The Stewpot Recipe Gallery

Mystron (Savoury Barley)
Arwen Southernwood

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Original Recipe


Athenaeus, The Partying Professors
‘Nicander of Colophon is the author who employs the word mystron when describing the use of the word barley groats in the first of his two books On Farming.  He writes: “But when you are making a dish of fresh kid or lamb or capon, put some barley groats in a mortar, pound them well, then stir in some ripe olive oil.  When the stock is boiling hard, pour it over the pounded groats, put the lid on the pot and steam it; for when it is cooked in this way, the heavy meal swells up.  Serve it when lukewarm in hollow mystra.”’ [Grant, p. 96]



2 cups pearl barley
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cups chicken broth

Preparation Steps

Place barley, oil, and broth in a modern rice steamer.  Cook until done.  (Alternatively, combine ingredients in a large pot and cook on a stovetop as directed for barley) Serve in hollowed out bread loaves (optional).

Number of Servings

Approximately 8 1/2 cup servings.

Redaction Notes

This is a very rich side dish -- small servings are recommended.

Thanks to Aethelind for her assistance and input!


  • Grant, Mark.  Roman Cookery:  Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.  Serif, London, 2000.  ISBN 1-897959-39-7.

Date Of Redaction

February, 2003.

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