Sunday, January 9, 2011

First cookery books of modern times

Bartholomeus Platina. Image from google images

In 1375 the first cookery book of modern times appeared. It was compiled by Guillaume Tirel, ¨First squire of the kitchen¨ to Charles VI of France and previously (at the time when the manuscript was written) cook to Charles V, for whose kitchen staff the book was intended. It was written under the pseudonym of Taillevent. Although in modern French taille-vent means seagull, it is very tempting to take the word in its literal sense of ¨cut wind´ -for the mediaeval digestive system was much afflicted by wind, and any author who offered the promise of reducing it would have been a popular man indeed. (…) A few years after Tirel produced his manual for the kitchen of the French king, a similar work appeared for the instruction of the cooks of Richard II of England. This was known as The Forme of Cury (Cookery) and had much in common with Le Viandier. Both books rely on heavy spicing, and most of the food is minced or chopped so that it may conveniently be eaten with a spoon. (…)

Platina, De Honesta Voluptate (1st page, detail)
copy of the incunabulum of 1480
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cividale del Friuli
published by the Societa Filologica Friulana in 1994
A page from De Honesta Voluptate. Picture from University of Glasgow Library

The first printed cookery book came, as was hardly surprising, from Renaissance Italy in 1475. It was written –and this, superficially, was surprising- by the Vatican librarian. Renaissance humanists, however, were interested in everything, even in the mundane subject of food which so many philosophers and historians have regarded as a matter of no importance. The librarian´s name was Bartolomeo de Sacchi, but he was known as Platina. His book, De Honesta Voluptate, was partly a cookery book and partly a guide to good health.
The Fine Art of Food. By Reay Tannahill. P. 75/76. Great Britain. 1970
Read The Forme of Cury at Project Gutenberg

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...