Skip to main content
Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
Rare Books - Exhibits
Cookery Exhibit: Fredrick Accum

Fredrick Accum, Culinary Chemistry.
(London: Ackermann), 1821

Title page

Accum (1769-1838) was born in Westphalia and in 1793 he came to London and delivered lectures at the Surrey Institute and later published works in chemistry and mineralogy. After his association with the art publisher Ackermann, Accum wrote his famous Practical Treatise on the Gas Light (1815) which resulted in the adoption of gas lights throughout London. Later, when working as a librarian at the Royal Institution on Albermarle Street, Accum was charged with embezzlement of funds and, after being acquitted, fled to Berlin where he became a professor at the Technical Institute in 1822.

While in the midst of the case against him, Accum published his Culinary Chemistry, a clear and concise argument "to understand the chemical principles, by means of which alimentary substances are rendered palatable and nutritious." It immediately became a standard work on the subject.

Selected Excerpts from the Text

Difference Between an Epicure and a Glutton, page 17

Spine and back cover

However extravagant and whimsical the rational pleasures of the table may appear to a sober and sensible mind, we must, in justice to epicures, cursorily observe, that there exists a material difference between a gormand, or epicure, and a glutton.[1] The first seeks for peculiar delicacy and distinct flavour in the various dishes presented to the judgment and enjoyment of his discerning palate; while the other lays aside nearly all that relates to the rational pleasures of creating or stimulating an appetite of the cates, and looks merely to quantify; this, has his stomach in view, and tries how heavy it may be laden, without endangering his health.

"The gormand never loses sight of the exquisite organs of taste, so admirably disposed by Providence in the crimson chamber, where sits the discriminating judge, the human tongue.

"The glutton is anathematised in the Scripture with those brutes quorum deus venter est. The other appears guilty of no other sin than of too great, and too minute, an attention to refinment in commercial sensuality."

Our neighbours on the other side of the channel, so famous for indulging in the worship of Comus, consider the epicure again under two distinct views, namely: as a gormand, or a gourmet. The epicure or gormand is defined--a man having accidentally been able to study the different tastes of eatables, does accordingly select the best food and the most pleasing to his palate. His character is that of a practioner. The gourmet speculates more than he practises, and eminently prides himself in discerning the nicest degrees, and most evanescent shades of goodness and perfection in the different subjects proposed to him. He may be designated a man, who, by sipping a few drops out of the silver cup of the vintner, can instantly tell from what country the wine comes, and its age.

The glutton practices without any regard to theory.

The gormand, or epicure, unites theory with practice.

The gourmet is merely theoretical.

Remarks on the Origin of the Custom of Eating Flesh page 49


We are told, that in the first ages of the world, men lived upon acorns, berries, and such fruits as the earth spontaneously produced, and that in the Shepherd state of society, milk, obtained from flocks and herds, came into use. Soon afterwards the flesh of wild animals was added to the food, and the juice of grape to the drink of the human species. Hogs were the first animals, of the domestic kind, that were eaten by men, for they held it ungrateful to eat the animals that assisted them in their labour. "We are happy to find, (says the author of an elegant poem [2]) that it was not on account of the solidity, wholesomeness, delicacy, and other excellent qualities of his flesh, that the ox was worshipped on the banks of the Nile, and in the gorgeous temples of Memphis; for, although professedly friends to gastronomy, moderated by a decided aversion to any thing like sensuality, we are of opinion that man is less fit to feed upon carnal than vegetable substance."

"The noble horse, fierce and unsubdued, was still roaming with all the roughness and intractability of original freedom, in his native groves, who already domesticated, the honest steer had willingly lent the strength of his powerful shoulders to the laborious strife of the plough. This had not only raised altars to him under the name of Apis, but even placed him among the first constellations of the Zodiac above the watchful eyes of the Chaldeans. In the reign of Erichtonius, fourth king of Athens, Diomus was offering to Jupiter the first fruits of the earth. Whilst the priests were busied apart in preparing some necessaries to the solemnity, an ox, passing by, browsed of all that had been gathered on the altar for the sacrifice. Diomus, in his disappointment and passion, slew him on the spot. The Gods, instead of countenancing his religious zeal, sent forth immediately al the horros of a pestilence upon the Athenians, which did not cease until they had instituted a festival called "The Death of the Ox."[3]

"Porphyrius traces the custom of eating meat to Pygmalion, king of Tyre, in Phoenicia. Although the Jews were allowed to eat the flesh of the immolated beasts, in the golden age, man had not found courage and eppetite enough to eat the flesh of an innocent animal; but soon after, this cruelty extended to nearly all quadrupeds, except those whe were carnivorous. Tradition states, that Prometheus was the first who killed a bullock, Ceres a pig, and Bacchus a goat, for the uses of their tables. It is obvious that pigs, by turning up the new sown felds for the sake of the grain, and goats browsing the tender sprouts of the vine-tree, were respectively inimical to Ceres and Bacchus. As for the killing of the first bullock by Prometheus, we leave to other commentators to explain."

Preservation of Meat by Potting page 218

The process of potting consists in reducing cooked animal substances to a pulp, by beating the meat in a mortar, and incorporating the mass with a portion of salt and spices. The pulp is then put into a jar, and covered with a thick coat of melted butter or lard, to prevent the contact of air; and the surface is futher protected with a bladder-skin tied over the mouth of the jar. The muscular part of meat is best suited for potting, and the quantity of salt and spices ought to be rather liberal.

Tomata Catsup page 246

Mash a gallon of ripe tomatas; add to it one pound of salt, press out the juice, and to each quart add a quarter of a pound of anchovies, two ounces of eshallots, and an ounce of ground black pepper; simmer the mixture for a quarter of an hour; then strain it through a sieve, and put to it a quarter of an ounce of pounded mace, the same quantity of allspice, ginger, and nutmeg, and a half a drachm of cochineal; let the whole simmer for twenty minutes, and strain it through a bag: when cold, bottle it:

Or, put tomatas into an earthen pan, and bake them very slowly in an oven. Rub the pulp through a hair sieve, to separate the seeds and skins. To every pound, by weight, of the pulp, add a pint and a quarter of vinegar, with a drachm of mace, ginger, cloves, allspice, and one ounce each of white pepper, and minced eshallot. Simmer them for half an hour, and strain off the liquid.

Orange Marmalade page 265

Cut the oranges into pieces, remove the pulp, squeeze it through a sieve, and measure it, Boil the rind in water till it is quite soft, then clear it from the interior side of the white pulpy mass, so that nothing but the thin outer yellow rind is left. To every pint of the pulpy juice add three-quarters of a pound of coarsely powdered loaf sugar, and add also the rind of the yellow orange, cut into thin slips. Let the whole simmer, till a sample, when taken out of the saucepan, and suffered to cool on a plate, exhibits the consistence of a semi-fluid mass.

[1] Tabella Cibaria, a Latin poem, relating to the pleasures of Gastronomy, and the mysterious art of Cooking, page 15.
[2] Tabella Cibaria, page 33.
[3] Nonius de re Cibaria.