Recreating The World’s First Omelette Recipe

Honey And Black Pepper Omelette

The first omelette recipe ever recorded comes from an ancient Roman collection of recipes called the Apicius.  Dating back to the 4th Century AD, the recipe called Ova Spongia Ex Lacte can be translated to “Honey Omelette”.  I like to call it a Honey & Black Pepper Omelette because it sounds hipper and I can pronounce it better.

The Roman Apicius

Here’s how the recipe appeared in the ancient text:

Ova quattuor, lactis heminam, olei unciam in se dissolvis, ita ut unum corpus facias. in patellam subtilem adicies olei modicum, facies ut bulliat, et adicies impensam quam parasti. una parte cum fuerit coctum, in disco vertes, melle perfundis, piper adspargis et inferes.

That roughly translates to:

Four eggs in half a pint of milk and an ounce of oil well beaten to make a fluffy mixture. In a pan, put a little oil and add the egg preparation without letting it boil. When one side is done, turn it out to a platter. Fold it, pour on honey and sprinkle with pepper.

Pouring The Eggs

For my version, I tried to stay true to the original but the milk to egg ratio was too high for my tastes.  I also eliminated oil within the egg mixture and modernized the cooking technique.  Here’s my recipe for the world’s first known omelette:

Honey & Black Pepper Omelette (Ova Spongia Ex Lacte)

3 Tablespoons honey
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
black pepper – to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk until well combined.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. As the last bit of butter is melting, pour in the egg mixture.  Let it set for 20 seconds and then start lifting the edges with a spatula so uncooked egg flows to the cooking surface.  When the egg is nearly set but still glossy on top, flip the omelette in the pan and cook the other side for 15 seconds.

Turn the omelette onto a platter, folding it in half with the lip of the pan as you slide it out.  Drizzle honey over the top and fold the omelette in half again.  Top with more honey and a generous amount of black pepper.  Slice and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Making The Omelette

It might sound weird having honey on an omelette, but it actually tasted great.  The honey contrasts with the warmth of the pepper to create a unique flavor.  It’s sort of like how every chocolatier is adding sea salt to their truffles lately.

The World's First Omelette

So, that’s our omelette lesson for the day.  If you’d like to learn more about omelettes, check out The Omelette Collection at MrBreakfast.com.

Have a great breakfast tomorrow!

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7 comments

  • Very interesting recipe. I am sure that the oil could only be olive oil, and none other. Have a great day.

    • Hi Maria – Your right. You could absolutely replace the butter with olive oil. The butter didn’t all that much flavor to the final omelette, so it would taste mostly the same. Thanks for the comment!

    • I found a website that said the Roman pint is equal to 0.6 US pint.

  • I read somewhere a similar recipe of an omelette cooked with eggs , milk and honey . It was known as ” Ova Melitta ” . Was this related to the Ova Spongia Ex Lacte ? I am very keen to know the source and authenticity of this name . Thanks .

  • Very nice recipe! I love ancient recipes. My omlette didn’t turn out so I made a scrambled version which my mother and I enjoyed very much. I also used almond milk.

  • I made the recipie but used 1/2 cup of milk and used my personal interpretation from the original cooking instructions of “cook without allowing to boil, until one side is done.” So I started the pan with oil hot and barely starting to smoke, then turned the heat low med/low, quickly added the eggs and adjusted the heat so the eggs never bubbled except gently on the edges. Started to form the curds in the eggs with a fork, like how you’d normally pull an omelete, but only cooked it as long as it took for the bottom to firm and the top to be still quite moist and creamy. Then I gently folded the eggs out of the pan like you said into the form of an omelette, generously seasoned with fresh cracked pepper and a drizzling of honey. The texture was like a custard, creamy, silky, there was no chewiness in the eggs, they were incredibly tender, like flan. We dipped and scooped it out with bread and absolutely LOVED IT! You were so right about the honey/pepper flavor combo, it’s incredible. Thank you for the recipe! It will be in my repertoire for ever!

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