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The Earliest Surviving Cookbook

For those who love books, it is truly amazing how many interesting and really aged books you can find at different libraries. In the New York Academy of Medicine Library, you can find the earliest surviving cookbook in the West. Yes, you are probably like me, wondering why this cookbook is in a medical library.

It is a Latin manuscript and contains recipes, dating back to the fourth century B.C. The recipes in this cookbook were written for the average Roman household but also contain non-native spices that would have to be imported from the Mediterranean. The library states that among the best recipes are roast lamb with coriander, deep-fried honey fritters and cucumber with mint dressing.

The manuscript dates from the 9th century originally written in a German monastery. The cookbook traveled to Rome and then on to Paris and finally was sold to noted bibliomaniac Sir Thomas Phillips in 1824. Afterward, it came into the hands of Margaret Barclay Wilson, a teacher, and librarian. She donated her extensive collection of cookbooks and medicinal recipe books to the New York Academy of Medicine in 1929.

  • Question /

    Do you have cookbooks at home?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question /

    Do you still go to libraries?

    • Yes
    • No

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