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A cookbook is a book that contains information on cooking. It typically contains a collection of recipes, and may also include information on ingredient origin, freshness, selection and quality.

History

The earliest cookbooks on record seem to be mainly lists of recipes for what would now be called haute cuisine, and were often written primarily to either provide a record of the author's favorite dishes or to train professional cooks for banquets and upper-class, private homes. Many of these cookbooks, therefore, provide only limited sociological or culinary value, as they leave out significant sections of ancient cuisine such as peasant food, breads, and preparations such as vegetable dishes too simple to warrant a recipe.

The earliest collection of recipes that has survived in Europe is De re coquinaria, written in Latin. An early version was first compiled sometime in the 1st century and has often been attributed to the Roman gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, though this has been cast in doubt by modern research. An Apicius came to designate a book of recipes. The current text appears to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century; the first print edition is from 1483. It records a mix of ancient Greek and Roman cuisine, but with few details on preparation and cooking. An abbreviated epitome entitled Apici Excerpta a Vinidario, a "pocket Apicius" by Vinidarius, "an illustrious man", was made in the Carolingian era. In spite of its late date it represents the last manifestation of the cuisine of Antiquity.

The earliest cookbooks known in Arabic are those of al-Warraq (10th century) and al-Baghdadi (10th century).

Huou, Kublai Khan's court chef, wrote a collection of recipes called "The Important Things to Know About Eating and Drinking" in the 13th century; it includes mainly soups as well as household advice.

After a long interval, the first recipe books to be compiled in Europe since Late Antiquity started to appear in the late thirteenth century. All told, about a hundred survive, mostly fragmentary, from the age before printing. The earliest genuinely medieval recipes have been found in a Danish manuscript dating from around 1300, which in turn are copies of older texts that date back to the early 13th century or even earlier. Low and High German manuscripts are among the most numerous. Among them is Daz buch von guter spise ("The Book of Good Food") written c. 1350 in Würzberg and Kuchenmeysterey ("Kitchen Mastery"), the first printed German cook book from 1485. Two French collections are probably the most famous: Le Viandier ("The Provisioner") was compiled in the late 14th century by Guillaume Tirel, master chef for two French kings; and Le Menagier de Paris ("The Householder of Paris"), a household book written by an anonymous middle class Parisian in the 1390s. From Southern Europe there is the 14th century Catalan manuscript Libre de Sent Soví ("The Book of Saint Sophia") and several Italian collections, notably the Venetian mid-14th century Libro per Cuoco, with its 135 recipes alphabetically arranged. The printed De honesta voluptate ("On honourable pleasure"), first published in 1470, is one of the first cookbooks based on Renaissance ideals, and, though it is as much a series of moral essays as a cookbook, has been described as "the anthology that closed the book on medieval Italian cooking". Recipes originating in England include the earliest recorded recipe for ravioli (1390s) and Forme of Cury, a late 14th century manuscript written by chefs of Richard II of England.

Types of cookbooks

Cookbooks that serve as basic kitchen references (sometimes known as "kitchen bible") began to appear in the early modern period. They provided not just recipes but overall instruction for both kitchen technique and household management. Such books were written primarily for housewives and occasionally domestic servants as opposed to professional cooks, and at times books such as The Joy of Cooking (USA), La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange (France), The Art of Cookery (UK, USA), Il cucchiaio d'argento (Italy), and A Gift to Young Housewives (Russia) have served as references of record for national cuisines. Related to this class are instructional cookbooks, which combine recipes with in-depth, step-by-step recipes to teach beginning cooks basic concepts and techniques.

International and ethnic cookbooks fall into two categories: the kitchen references of other cultures, translated into other languages; and books translating the recipes of another culture into the languages, techniques, and ingredients of a new audience. The latter style often doubles as a sort of culinary travelogue, giving background and context to a recipe that the first type of book would assume its audience is already familiar with.

Professional cookbooks are designed for the use of working chefs and culinary students and sometimes double as textbooks for culinary schools. Such books deal not only in recipes and techniques, but often service and kitchen workflow matters. Many such books deal in substantially larger quantities than home cookbooks, such as making sauces by the liter or preparing dishes for large numbers of people in a catering setting. While the most famous of such books today are books like Le guide culinaire by Escoffier or The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of Americamarker, such books go at least back to medieval times, represented then by works such as Taillevent's Viandier and Chiquart d'Amiço's Du fait de cuisine.

Single-subject books, usually dealing with a specific ingredient, technique, or class of dishes, are quite common as well; indeed, some imprints such as Chronicle Books have specialized in this sort of book, with books on dishes like curries, pizza, and simplified ethnic food. Popular subjects for narrow-subject books on technique include grilling/barbecue, baking, outdoor cooking, and even recipe cloning.

Cookbooks can also document the food of a specific chef (particularly in conjunction with a cooking show) or restaurant. Many of these books, particularly those written by or for a well-established cook with a long-running TV show or popular restaurant, become part of extended series of books that can be released over the course of many years. Popular chef-authors throughout history include people such as Julia Child, James Beard, Nigella Lawson, Edouard de Pomiane, Jeff Smith, Emeril Lagasse, Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey, Katsuyo Kobayashi, and possibly even Apicius, the semi-pseudonymous author of the Roman cookbook De re coquinaria, who shared a name with at least one other famous food figure of the ancient world.

While western cookbooks usually group recipes for main courses by the main ingredient of the dishes, Japanese cookbooks usually group them by cooking techniques (e.g., fried foods, steam foods, and grill foods). Both styles of cookbook have additional recipe groupings such as soups, sweets.

Famous cookbooks

Famous cookbooks from the past, in chronological order, include:

Usage outside the world of food

The term cookbook is sometimes used metaphorically to refer to any book containing a straightforward set of already tried and tested "recipes" or instructions for a specific field or activity, presented in detail so that the users who are not necessarily expert in the field can produce workable results. Examples include a set of circuit designs in electronics, a book of magic spells, or the Anarchist Cookbook, a set of instructions on destruction and living outside the law. O'Reilly Media publishes a series of books about computer programming named the Cookbook series, and each of these books contain hundreds of ready to use, cut and paste examples to solve a specific problem in a single programming language.

See also



Notes

  1. Melitta Weiss Adamson, "The Greco-Roman World" in Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, p. 6–7; Simon Varey, "Medieval and Renaissance Italy, A. The Peninsula" in Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, pp. 85–86.
  2. About Vinidarius himself nothing is known; he may have been a Goth, in which case his Gothic name may have been Vinithaharjis.
  3. Christopher Grocock and Sally Grainger, Apicius. A critical edition with an introduction and an English translation (Prospect Books) 2006 ISBN 1903018137, pp. 309-325
  4. Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. cookbook full text
  5. John Dickie, Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food 2008, pp50f.
  6. Constance B. Hieatt, "Sorting Through the Titles of Medieval Dishes: What Is, or Is Not, a 'Blanc Manger'" in Food in the Middle Ages, pp. 32–33.
  7. Melitta Weiss Adamson, "The Greco-Roman World" in Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, p. 161, 182–83
  8. Adamson (2004), pp. 103, 107.
  9. Text printed in E. Faccioli, ed. Arte della cucina dal XIV al XIX secolo (Milan, 1966) vol. I, pp.61-105, analysed by John Dickie 2008, pp 50ff.
  10. Simon Varey, "Medieval and Renaissance Italy, A. The Peninsula" in Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, p. 92.
  11. Constance B. Hieatt, "Medieval Britain" in Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, p. 25.


References

  • Adamson, Melitta Weiss Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 2004. ISBN 0-313-32147-7
  • Food in the Middle Ages: A Book of Essays. Melitta Weiss Adamson (editor). Garland, New York. 1995. ISBN 0-8153-1345-4
  • Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe: A Book of Essays. edited by Melitta Weiss Adamson (editor). Routledge, New York. 2002. ISBN 0-415-92994-6
  • What’s the Recipe? - Our hunger for cookbooks., Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 2009.


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