Honey Poppyseed Dormice

“The dishes for the first course included… some small iron frames shaped like bridges supporting dormice sprinkled with honey and poppy seed.” – Petronius, Trimalchio’s Feast


Upper class ancient Roman kitchens were outfitted with special pottery homes, glirarium, for dormice (small rodents a bit bigger than a field mouse). They had little ledges and air holes to keep the critters happy. True to Roman life, this practice was both practical and luxurious: The dormice were fed kitchen scraps until properly fattened up, and then they made a lovely snack at the next banquet!

Sometimes they were stuffed with pork, but I prefer this honey & poppyseed delicacy.

Our “dormice” are sweet and crispy, with a slight crunch coming from the poppy seeds.  In short, they’re delicious, and I dare say Flavia would be pleased.  Much more than that, they’re seriously simple to make, allowing you to add a taste of ancient Rome to your dinner/party/classroom without the hassle of chopping herbs and grinding hard-to-find spices.


  • Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Honey
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Rinse the chicken and cut off all the nasty bits.  Leave the skin on if you want the ‘mice’ to be nice and crispy!  Once rinsed, pat the chicken dry.
  • Set the chicken onto an oiled/greased baking tray, and rub some of the olive oil into the skin. Season with salt and pepper and place into the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 375 F / 190 C.
  • Just before the chicken is due to come out of the oven, gently heat some honey in a small pan, and sprinkle some poppy seeds out onto a plate. I find that the heat of the stove is usually enough – just set the pan on an (inactive) burner.
  • Roll the cooked chicken around in the honey and then the poppy seeds.  The hotter the chicken is, the thinner the honey coating will be. If you want a thicker, more decadent experience, when all the pieces have been coated, pour the remaining honey and poppy seeds over the top of the plated chicken.


About Sharon Rose, LAc, MSAOM

Acupuncturist, medical massage therapist, historian, scientist, road-tripper, geek, LARP & board gamer, food fan, Roman fanatic, belly-laugher.
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