Apicius' de re coquinaria (Roman recipe book believed to have been compiled in the 4th/5th century CE) contains, in the book 3 "cepuros" on vegetables, a paragraph (XX, recipes 115 to 121) entitled "sphondyli vel fonduli".
The book having been copied again and again during all middle-age, alternative spellings/titles exist such as funduli sive sfondili, spondyli vel fonduli, sphondyli vel funduli, spondili vel fonduli, ....
Because these recipes are in the vegetable section, sphondyli is believed to refer to cow-parsnip, or parsnip according to some authors. However early in the book a recipe of scallops uses the same word to designate the scallops (isicia ex spondylis). Finally, according to various dictionaries, sp[h]ondylus means alternatively "a kind of mushroom", "a vertebra", "the muscle of an oyster or another bivalve" or "a kind of muscle".
Needless to say, I'm confused and a few questions arise from this:
- Are we sure (cow-)parsnips are the sp[h]ondyli meant in that series of recipes?
- What is the etymology of this word for it to have such different meanings?
- And what does fondul/funduli mean? (None of the translations of de re coquinaria I read have tried to translate it.)