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Rare Books - Exhibits
Cookery Exhibit: Apicius
Title page

Apicius, De Re Culinaria
(Lyon: Sebastianus Gryphium), 1541.

Believed to be the oldest cookbook in the Western world, it is supposed to have originated in the 3rd century and written by one Caelius. Apicius' work is of great interest for its insights into the daily life of the Romans and to students of diet and health. There were three Roman gastronome named Apicius but the book was composed by none of them but by a later writer, one Coelius or Caelius, who linked his own name with that of Apicius in order to promote his work. The first edition appeared sometime between 1483 and 1486.

Selected Excerpts from the Text

The following recipe translations are taken from Apicius, Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, by Joseph Dommers Vehling (New York: Dover Publishing), 1977.

Page 11 - recipe in latin Rose Wine - page 11

Make rose wine in this manner: Rose petals, the lower white part removed, sewed into a linen bag and immersed in wine for seven days. Thereupon add a sack of new petals which allow to draw for another seven days. Again remove the old petals and replace them by fresh ones for another week; then strain the wine through the colander. Before serving, add honey sweetening to taste. Take care that only the best petals free from dew be used for soaking.

Page 23 - recipe in latin Vegetable Dinner, easily digested - page 23

All green vegetables are suited for this purpose very young beets and well matured leeks are parboiled; arrange them in a baking dish, grind pepper and cumin, add broth and condensed must, or anything else to sweeten them a little, heat and finish them on a slow fire, and serve.

Page 31 - recipe in latin Boiled Dinner - page 31

Pepper, fresh mint, celery, dry pennyroyal, cheese, pignolia nuts, honey, vinegar, broth, yolks of egg, fresh water, soaked bread and the liquid pressed out, cow's cheese and cucumbers are arranged in a dish, alternately, with the nuts; [also add] finely chopped capers, chicken livers; cover completely with [a lukewarm congealing] broth, place on ice [and when congealed unmould and] serve up.

Page 31 - Recipe in Latin Apician Jelly - page 31

Put in the mortar celery seed, dry pennyroyal, dry mint, ginger, fresh coriander, seedless raisins, honey, vinegar, oil and wine; crush it together [in order to make a dressing of it]. Place 3 pieces of Picentian bread in a mould, interlined with pieces of [cooked] chicken, [cooked] sweetbreads of calf or lamb, cheese, pignolia nuts, cucumber, finely chopped dry onions [shallots] covering the whole with [jellified] broth. Bury the mould in snow up to the rim; [unmould] sprinkle [with the above dressing] and serve.