Timeline of Western Cookbooks

Papyrus; Cyperus papyrus

The papyrus is a plant that grows along the banks of the Nile and was even raised in “plantations” throughout history to supply an ever-growing market for the literate early cultures of the Western World. The plant was peeled and then the inner core was stripped or cut into flat lengths and soaked in water to remove any inherent glucose. After a few days the strips were removed from their water bath and pounded to soften the fibers. The fiber strips were then overlapped to form a 2 by 3 foot sheet with another sheet constructed over the first in a like manner but with the fibers lain in the opposite direction. The two sheets were then pounded to bind them and a weight was placed on top so the two separate sheets would fuse and dry into one. The resultant paper was then polished with an abrasive, often a loaf of specially baked granular sanding bread, making it ready for the scribe or artist to fill with glyphs or words.  Sheets we usually jointed at the ends by pounding and reversing the weave to form rolls up to a hundred feet long until the book/codex configuration became the format of choice replacing the scroll. The longest known papyrus roll, Harris I, measures over 120 feet long.


Parchment is made from animal hides and those of almost any species could be used. In its most primitive form hides were soaked a lime solution that may have been amended with beer, putrefying plant matter or alcohol until the hair had fallen off the pelt. These treated pelts where then stretch on frames, scraped to remove any remaining hair, and sized to  standardize the thickness of the skin. After the parchment dried it could be further treated to change its color, penetrability by removing any excess oils that might cause inks used on it to run.  The finest grade of parchment was called vellum and came from young calf’s and it is from parchment that we get the name sheepskin for a college diploma.

Parchment easily withstood the demands of travels and storage, could be erased and reused, and both sides could be used; a decidedly useful advantage over papyrus when making books. Early Christians readily adopted the new skin technology for these reason or perhaps just because Rome had forbidden its use to them. When Constantinople fell both the route and source for papyrus dried up which, as bad as it sounds for literacy, was a good thing because parchment could be produced locally. A good size sheep hide can yield 3 bifoila, that’s double sided pages, so manufacturing and purchasing a book of any length was a costly undertaking.  This helped to keep the riff raff from learning to read and these publishing projects were often underwritten by some literate noble or cleric which explains why many of the early books of the period were rather short.

2000 BCE – Egypt

The Prisse Papyrus Roll

The oldest known written “paper” document with moral and philosophical guidelines. The document was bundled with two other smaller incomplete pieces of papyrus thought to be from 3800 BCE. The oldest document offered guidance to young Egyptian nobles in the form of proverbs. Some historians conjecture that many of these proverbs later appeared in the Christian Bible.

1700 BCE – Mesopotamia

YBC  4644, 8958 and 4648

The oldest known Western cooking record is written in Akkadian cuneiform on clay tablets from Babylonia. It’s thirty-five recipes showed a “new” cooking technology that deviated from the historical oven or hot ash roasting, grilling or broiling methods. Every recipe inscribed on these, possibly unrelated tablets, used boiling/brazing to prepare period grains, proteins and vegetables in combination or alone. One hell of a new app over simple singly prepared items … finally a soup or a stew or perhaps a little sauce to go with a piece of fried meat or maybe some sautéed vegetables.

The Assyrians/Persians used rice, barley, grapes, apples, cucumbers, pistachio nuts, bananas, dates, raisins, melons, berries, truffles, mushrooms, milk, butter, animal and plant oils, and a variety of different honeys and date syrups for sweetening. They had over 50 different shapes of bread, including pita, millenia before the Europeans. Dried fish, oxen, bison, water buffalo, zebu, sheep, wild game birds and locusts all found their way to the kitchens of the Assyrians. Different types of beers and several wines, made from both dates and grapes, were common.  36 different herbs and spices were mentioned in the text and study promotes the idea that Persian chefs not only served more than one item on a diner’s plate but the presentations may have also been garnished. Breads were made of both wheat and barley which in its whole grain form was used as currency.

776 BCE – Greece

Adoption of the Phoenician Alphabet and the First Olympics


450 BCE – Greece

A flourishing book trade exists at the Athens Market in Greece


390 BCE – Rome

The Gaul’s sack Rome and burn most of the written records there


300 BCE to 48 BCE or 391 CE or 640 CE … Many Myths

The Royal Library of Alexandria

Several myths exist as to its destruction,including the natural deterioration of the scrolls, and size but in any case some of its 700,000 papyrus “books” must have been cookbooks or at least contained medical advice on preparing food. One myth states that when a ship anchored in port it was searched for any on board texts which were then seized, copied and later returned to the vessels. The intent was to add to the volumes already on the shelves and build the largest depository of knowledge in the then known world.

300 BCE – Mexico

The Mayans, who had been writing since 300 BCE, make Amatl “paper” from fig tree fibers. The Olmecs, another Mesoamerican culture, had developed a writing system around 1000 BCE long before the European Romantic languages appeared

250 BCE

Writing on Bamboo and Silk in China


206 BCE – China

Qin Shi Huang, founding emperor of China, burns the books and 400 scholars


200 BCE

Parchment  Invented

In the city of Pergamon, Greece, because Egypt was boycotting that city’s new rival library by cutting off papyrus supplies. The new material was adopted centuries later by early Christians in Europe before any of the “nations” did. Legend says that Pergamon had a 200,000 scroll library that Mark Antony gave to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. Papyrus became so popular in the ancient world that the crops shortages along the Nile, the cultivar was becoming an endangered species, drove the price of “paper” up. Parchment for scrolls was stitched together with silk thread while the ends of a papyrus roll were beaten  together to form a bond. The widespread usage of papyrus began to decline around 200 CE while parchment codices remained popular until the beginning of the sixteenth century.

100 BCE

Rag Paper invented in China


37 BCE – Rome

First public library in the city of Romulus and Remus;  Rome had a higher rate of literacy than Medieval Europe


100 – 400 CE

De re Coquinaria

A manuscript composed of 57 pages has been attributed to one Marcus Gavius Apicus, but was actually written by several authors who used the nom de plume. The text  was copied by at least seven different scribe/monks after 744 in the Benedictine monastery of Fulda, Germany possibly as a training /copying exercise and was first printed in 1483. Other written copies may have existed but no others are known to us and as with all hand done text, especially in light of it’s “practice” provenance, the chances for mistakes and errors were multiplied by the number of people working on it. The manuscript had almost 500 heavily spiced constructs a third of which were sauces. Myth tells us that Gavius Apicus was a party animal who spent a literal fortune on his soirees. With his personal fortune exhausted  and the thought that he could not longer host these gatherings he fell on his sword.  But no matter who or how many participated in writing the text it left a lasting influence on European cuisine for the next millenia.

410 CE – Rome

The Goths sack Rome and then the empire takes a dirt bath; say hello to the Dark/Middles ages.


455 CE – Rome

The Vandals give Rome a second sacking and staying for a few weeks to loot, plunder and sack the city. They leave after stripping the copper from the temple roofs and abducting Romes empress and her daughters to return to   Carthage.



Book/codex formats have pretty much replaced the scroll of the ancient period in the Western World



De Observatione Ciborum; On the Observance of Foods

The Letters of Anthimus, a physician who was exiled to the court of  Theodoric the Frankish king. He spoke of Roman food tradition and preparation methods. The first Greek/Italian influence to French cuisine, one of the last written examples of spoken vulgar Latin before the Romance languages appeared in Europe and it is argumentatively the first French cookbook. The text shows the start of the change from forest dominated game meats to the bread, olive oil and vegetable cuisine of the latter-day West.

610 -1200

Europe’s “Dark” Age

Knowledge and writing is housed in the European scriptoria’s of ecclesiastic monasteries, along with wine and cheese technology, agricultural skills and some very fluffy clerics. It has been offered that some of the good brothers, abbots and bishops consumed up to 6000 calories a day while the average peasant had to survive on 1200 or less.


Broadsheets of Confucian works are made from stone cut blocks by rubbed ink transfers to paper



Printed Dharani Prayer Strips in Kyongyu, Korea

New information also points to other printed artifacts from Korea that date between 704-751



Printed Paper in Japan

Empress Shotoku of Japan had 1 million Shinto prayer strips printed on mulberry-hemp paper using wood blocks or bronze/copper plates in this ISOLATED instance.


The Manufacture of Paper in Present Day Iraq

Haroun-el-Rashid operates a paper mill in Baghdad using captured celestial paper makers and their technology. Paper would not be fully accepted in Europe until the advent of the printing press because it was foreign, barbarian and non-Christian.


Kitab al-Adwiyah al Mufradah wal-Aghdhiyah

The first Western health/diet book written by Abu Ya’qub Ishaq Sulayman al-Istaili … aka Isaac Ben Solomon.  Translated into Latin around 1070 by Constantine the African of Carthage.  A prolific writer in Latin, Arabic and Hebrew his works covered all the seven sciences of the day including instruction for a  proper diet.


al-Kitab al Tabih; The Book of Dishes

The first known Arabic cookbook by Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Sayyar al-Warraq. Until recently this was the only known Islamic cookbook available in the English universe. The newest edition is based on a modern twentieth century transcription of the four manuscripts that have survived from the period when Baghdad was the richest city in the world. The text contains many Persianized recipes from the sixth and seventh centuries with over ninety poems dedicated to cooking and the pleasures of food. The text also gives us many a floral passage describing the caliph’s “Iron Chef” cooking contests.


The Fork Travel To Venice

Maria Argyropoulina, Greek niece of Byzantium uses golden forks at wedding.  When she died a short  time later of the plague the local clerics said it was the hand of god that struck  her down for heathen use of tableware instead of her god given fingers.


Earliest Known Mayan Codex

The Dresden Codex was written on amatl paper in Chichen Itza by the Mayans in a kind of accordion fold format. Of course there were countless other Mayan books in existence, perhaps some of which might have even been cook books, but when the Spanish arrived the good fathers burnt most of them because they were heathen, sinful and ungodly. Visit http://mexicanfood1.wordpress.com


The Last Known Use of Papyrus in Europe

A papal bull was the last known historically significant surviving document to be written on papyrus, yeah I know maybe not the last but …

1095 The Levant

Pope Urban II calls for the first Crusade


1109 – Sicily

Earliest known Western paper manuscript, a legal document of course, from Sicily, written in Arabic and Greek.


1145 – Sicily

King Roger II bans the use of paper for official documents cause it’s pagan. Europe still relies of parchment as stationery


1151 – Iberia

Moors brought paper making to a conquered Spain and build the first paper mill in Xativa where rice and straw were used to make “Xativi” paper.


An untitled collection of Arabic inspired recipes from the Norman court of King William II written in a Anglo-Norman dialect used between 1066 and 1350.  One of the portfolios contained a recipe for raviele/ravioli.


First paper mill in Herault, France, although it had been manufactured in China since the first century.



Subject indexes are now appearing and books are now being designed for reference as well as reading pleasure



Book production begins moving from monastic scriptoriums to the public sector



Leonardo of Pisa {aka} Fibonacci introduces European craftsmen to Arabic numerals 



Genghis Khan, {aka} Temuchen, destroys Muslim libraries as he sweeps across Asia



The first German law-book written in low German prose instead of Latin



Paper is banned by Frederick II for court document; only parchment or vellum is acceptable


1250 – Paris

First use of the ALPHABETICAL indexes for scholarly works instead of just religious


1258 – Baghdad

The Invading Mongols destroy the house of wisdom which equates to burning the library of Alexandria


1275 – China

Moveable wooden type appears in China, Visit http://chinesefoodhistory.wordpress.com


1260 – Italy

First Italian paper mill at Fabriano


1293 – 1297

Comment’ on doit faire Viande et Clara; How We Should Eat and Drink

Contains 29 constructs and both of these folios were found tucked between some legal records.

1300 – Denmark

Libellus de art Coquinaria; Kochbuch Harpestreng

Perhaps the first European gastronomic codex, that is now thought to have originated in the kitchens of Fredrick II who reigned from 1194 to 1250. These 25/31 recipes, thought to have been of French or Spanish origin, were possibly translated by one Dr. Harpestreng into Danish another example of Europe’s one cuisine for the period.

1304 – France

Enseignements, qui enseingnent a apareillier toutes manieres de viandes

Instruction for Preparing All Types of Meats

The first manuscript devoted entirely to meat with 81 constructs written in Latin that were incorporated in La Viandier some 70 years later.


First record of paper in England


1314 – Italy

Libre de Coquina; Book of Cooking – Italy

Thought to be the oldest known Italian/Neapolitan manuscript that ties certain foods to certain areas. It’s Constructs  showed the obvious linkage between local cultivars, ingredients and recipes. It was one of the first text to acknowledged “they make it that way there and this way here”.

1328 – France and England

Europe’s Largest Library

The Sorbonne has 1722 manuscripts while England’s Canterbury has 1850.

1315 – Europe

The Great Famine

Up to one-third of Europe’s inhabitants die of hunger and related causes.

1340 – Europe

The Black Death

The  Black Death kills one-third or more of Europe’s total population with no considerations for border or cuisine.

1350 – Germany

Daz buch von guter spise; The Book of Good Food

Complied by a notary employed by the archbishop of Würzburg. One of several German texts written in the mid fourteenth century with 96 constructs.

1370 – French

Le Viandier; The Provisioner

First known French recipe collection by Guillaume Triel {Taillevent}, printed in 1486. There were four existent manuscripts of the works, until one was destroyed on D-Day, 1944.  The texts contain between 133 to 221 constructs although some may have been added to the later copies.  The text describes par boiling meat before roasting it which would certainly improve the tooth of tough meat. It is now thought that Triel’s work was simply a rewrite of an earlier text entitled the manuscript of Zion/Sion written around 1300 and research continues.

1390 – England

The Forme of Cury

The earliest English language assemblage of recipes, written around 1390, mentions olive oil, porpoise porridge, boiled fruits in puff pastry and custards. It is one of the oldest known English language manuscripts in existence and the original vellum codex contained 196 constructs.


Le Menagier de Paris; The Goodman of Paris, France

This book was written for a young French bride by her husband and contains lots of household tips as well as recipes for jellies, cod, sauce Cameline and crepes. Published in 1846 and was one of the first instructional guides for “housewives”.

1420 – French

Du Fait de Cusine; Because of Cooking/Cuisine

Created by Chiquart Amicvzo and written by the town clerk/scribe of Annessier with 78-81 recipes and a list for setting up a kitchen with the proper pots and pans. Myth tells us that the recipes are supposed to be those used to prepared for a 3 day banquet for Amadeus VIII the Duke of Savoy held in 1420. One of the few accounts of a medieval banquet arranged into menu items, presentation and guidelines. Recipes are presented in sections for feast and fast days since the year was split almost equally between them during the period.

1435 – Italy

Registrum Coquine; Registry of Cooking

Johane Bockenheim was a German cleric/cook who worked for pope Martin V and other church movers and shakers in his career. He always ended the 74 individual recipes in his book with the tagline; et erit bonum pro “excellent for” … Italians/Spaniards, or barons/kings or beggars/hookers {the last two are my choice of words}. This work had constructs for fat days and lean in addition to 10 or so for fish.

1440 – Germany; Print Technology Arrives

Johannes Gutenberg invents movable type printing although the Chinese have been printing full-page woodblock text for centuries and had mass-produced cooking broadsheets long before Europe. In 1455 180 bibles, which sold out immediately, were printed;  135 on paper and 45 on vellum showing that the two materials coexisted for several decades before paper finally won out. Rather then invent composed printing John actually combined existent technology to develop a new process.

1440 – England

The Boke of Kokery

Written around 1440, with 182 constructs that became the first printed English language cook book. It has three sections and many of these constructs are said to come from an earlier work entitled Diversa Servicia.

1450 – Europe

The first printed pamphlets begin circulating and are often read aloud in the streets to illiterate audiences a common practice of the period


1455-1467 – Italy

Libro de arte coquinqria; The Book of Culinary Art

65 sheets by Maestro Martino Como that were translated into French, English and German and promoted the use of sugar, butter and pork while deriding the excesses of the medieval  table.  Began the move towards regional food local flavors  instead of the exotics spices from the east. There are several other works out there attributed to master Martin.

1457 – Germany

The first PRINTED book with a colophon; author, printer and date displayed. The same text was also the first to use two colors and the first with printed lines of music.


1463 – Germany

First printed title page


1465 – Italy

First book printed in Italy. It used Roman type and was an edition of the Ciceronian classic De Oratore


1466 – Germany

First bible printed in a language other than Latin


1468 – Italy

Pope Paul II is told that the price of printing a book has decreased by 80% by his printer the Bishop of Aleria


1474 – Germany

First printed book with page numbers


1475 – Italy

De honesta volyptate et valetudine; On Honest Pleasure and Good Health

These six books were re-translated by Bartolomeo Sacchi {aka} Plantina based on the works of Martino Como aka Rossi/Rubies … they were also  translated in French, English and German and promoted the use of sugar and butter while deriding the excess of the medieval table. Thought to be the first printed cookbook in 1480. Also promoted the use of regional products instead of those popular in the earlier medieval period.

1477 – Italy

The first printed herbal documenting the medicinal properties of 77 herbs in Latin


1477 – Spain

Libre del Coch; Book of The Cook

Robert Nola wrote the first cookbook printed in Catalan in 1520 then Castilian in 1525 where he claims that the constructs are of Spanish, Italian, French and Moorish style. The book contains 242 constructs and is yet another example of the continuity between European cuisine.

1478 – Germany

Von Bewahrung und Bereitung der Weine; The storing and preparation of wines

Translated from Latin and printed in Germany. The first printed book devoted entirely to wines.

1485 – Germany

Kuchenmeystery; The Book of Good Food

The first German printed cookbook, written around 1350 had 56 editions and a recent edition was offered as a sales promotion by the Tupperware company to celebrate its thirtieth year of business in Germany in 1992.

1486 – Germany

The first travel book is printed


1486 to 1686 – Europe

Malleus Maelficarum; The Witch’s Hammer

This guide to identifying and spit roasting witches becomes the number two best seller for 200 years only surpassed by the Christian bible.

1490 – England

First mention of a paper mill in England


Columbus Discovers the New World

The Columbian exchange of cultivars begins and information and wealth starts flowing from West to East instead of from East to West as it had for centuries. These new culinary inputs help to stimulate regional foods that had only existed previously because of growing condition and geographical location.

1508 – England

The Boke of Kervynge; The Book of Carving

The first printed English book that tells you how to carve a joint of meat, a whole fish, a side of whale, or an orange. This work shows the importance placed on the roasted joint and the status of the court/manor carver. Just think of your father trying to chop up the Thanksgiving turkey.

1520 – Italy

Libre del Coquina; The Cookbook

Maestro Robert of Naples {aka} Rupert de Nola published in Catalan and Castilian featuring  constructs with Arab, French, Italian and Spanish origins presented in the court of Palermo.  This work, and others, shows that Spain was certainly a player in the European cuisine scene. Iberian cuisine was influenced by the Saracens, Normans and Swabians; yet another example of the lack of defined provincial pockets of cuisine championed by today’s terrior pirates.

1530 – England

A huge deposit of graphite is discovered which the locals had been using for centuries to mark and identify sheep. England becomes the world’s major pencil producer for centuries to come.


1539 – Mexico

First book printed in Mexico


1533 to 1589 – France … The Myth Begins

La fantome des Medici’s; The ghost of the De Medici’s

Perhaps the biggest myth attributed to Caterina Maria di Lorenzo de Medici was that she introduced the fork to main stream Europe in 1533. But in reality one Maria Argyropoulina, Greek niece of Byzantium Emperor Basil II, used golden forks for fruit at her wedding in Venice in 1004. When she died a short time later of the plague a local cleric, St Peter Damian, said it was the hand of god that struck her down for heathen and vain use of tableware instead of her god given fingers.

But that tidbit provides a nice Segue to Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo de Medici who came to France in 1533 and became queen 14 years later in 1547 when her husband Henry ascends the throne. She will remain a potent force in the French court for over forty years through her sons and lots of intrigue. You’re probably familiar with the well-worn myth that Cat, along with her entourage, nudged French food into the realm of haute cuisine. Legend tells us that Caterina brought cookbooks and cooks with her when she first came to court but there is no historical record of this myth. Although she may have not brought a brigand of cooks or some of the fewer than 100 titled cookbooks that existed in the period, she certainly brought the trappings of renaissance La Dolce Vita with her.

Cat established the way the French court and therefore the rest of Europe, would dress, decorate, build, party and eat for centuries to come. Just like any bride moving to a new country she brought all the Florentine trappings and craving from home that included men and women dining together, the use of personal forks and spoons, napkins and handkerchiefs and individual place settings that featured a variety of glass drinking vessels and porcelain plates to replace the bulky pewter and silver of the period.

You can be sure that Cat let the guys in the kitchen know that she favored poultry with citrus, artichokes, broccoli, Savoy cabbage, pastas, oil and vinegar salads, puff pastry, meats without sugar, almond paste, candied flowers, ginger bread, sorbets and the dessert table. After she had 119 mirrors installed in her Paris apartments, the style became a symbol of France especially in the Versailles palace about a century later. Legend also tells us that she engineered high heels, the corset, the beginnings of ballet and forbade “heavy” jousting; the cause of her husband’s death. Her elaborate entertainments set the stage for state affairs that lasted until the revolution and she was the first European women to use, but hardly invent, snuff she had received from Jean Nicot [as a migraine medication for her or her son] … what could be more French than sneezing into you fine lace handkerchief after a little snort of tobacco?

1539 – France

French is declared the official language of France by Francis II superseding Latin

Of course this does little to change the spoken language of most “country” people who speak various patois.  It will take centuries for the population to speak one tongue and actually that’s still a somewhat debateable issue.

1552-1555 –  France

Traite des fardemens et comfitures: The Elixirs of Nostradamus 

Michel de Nostredame {aka} Nostradamus, wrote various pieces on preparing jams, jellies and candied fruits. This text also includes a cure for the plague, some hair care tips and a little sex advice.

1553 – Germany

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin

Argumentably the first cookbook, at least known one, written by a woman

1562 – Mexico

Some estimated 2500 Mayan codices are burnt by Diego de Landa


1570 – Italy

Opera; Works

Bartolomeo Scappi’s book that illustrates and describes new kitchen technology and equipment and is also the first to speak of the fork. Many think this Italian innovation was perhaps adopted and developed to pick up hot pasta with sauce.  He also, as did his Roman predecessors, thought that offal cuts like sweetbreads, brains, liver and kidneys were gourmet and he often featured them in many of his almost 1000 recipes along with the first illustration of the personal fork.

1604 – France

Ouverture de Cusine; The Kitchen Opening/The Open Kitchen

Lancelot de Casteau’s lost text was rediscovered in 1958 then published in 1983. This texts mentions potatoes (tartoufle) as well as constructs from Spain, Italy, Hungary, Ireland, England and Portugal again citing examples of the continuity that existed in European cuisine. The work consists of four parts and includes a banquet menu for Bishop Robert Banks in 1557 that had 143 courses. The describe constructs included omelets, salads with herbs, sorbets and featured a section on children’s parties.

1604 – England

Table Alphabeticall

Robert Cawdrey authored the first English only dictionary whose 2,500 ”vsuall English words borrowed from Hebrew, Greeke, Latine and French” were  intended for the benefit and help of ladies, gentlewomen and other unskillful persons.


First printed German newspaper

In the city of  Strassburg … Wonder if it had a food section?

1631 – France

First weekly magazine, La Gazette, published in Paris


1634 – France

Richelieu Creates the Academie Francaise

A government sponsored organization for the promotion, preservation and purification of the French language that is still operating today.

1635 – North America

The first documented book in the future USA belonged to John Norton of Boston


1639 – North America

First printing press at Cambridge, Massachusetts; it only printed two broadsides that year


1640 – North America

First book printed in the future USA by locksmith Stephen Daye


1651 – France

Le Cuisine François’ The French Cook

The Beginnings of Cuisine Classique; that of the medieval/gothic period.

Written by François Pierre de la Verenne, Translated into English 1653 and cataloged the changes in French cuisine from the medieval period. It is the first text to  mentions the lard/ butter and flour roux, Bechamel sauce, stocks, reductions,  puff pastry, bisques, bouquet garni and the cooking of vegetables. It also features the use of sugar in jams, jellies, syrups, fruit drinks and a section of salads all “new” items. It also began incorporating many new items from the Columbian exchange that helped to transform all the cuisines of Europe into not only national but regional benchmarks.  He also wrote La Patissier François in 1653 which was the first French pastry dialogue and his previous work was the first cookbook translated into English.

1662 – Italy

L’Arte di Ben Cucinare; The Art of Good Cooking

Written by Stefani Bartolomeo; the first Italian cookbook writer to address himself to the different socio economic classes and regions well before any of his French peers. This tome also urged it readers to pride themselves in local foodways and reject the anal high cuisine of France.

1690 – North America

The colonies first newspaper; it lasts only one edition before the British close it down. The first colonial paper mill also opens this year


1692 – Italy

Lo scalo alla modena; The Modern Steward

Antonio Latini puts forward the first tomato sauce recipe and speaks of a sauce alla spagnuola


1703 – England

The Largest Private library in the Western World

Samuel Pepys dies and leaves history the largest private owned library to date. His collection of 3000 volumes was arranged in bookcases by height from the shortest to the tallest with small wooden bases made for each book so that they all rose to the same level. Each of these wooded block risers/bases was designed to match the book it supported with the same colored leather bindings and accents.

1704 – North America

The Boston-News-Letter becomes the first viable newspaper in the colonies


1719 – England

A patent is awarded for three color printing


1741 – North America

The first magazines of the colonies goes belly – up after just a few months


1744 – England

First women’s magazine published by a woman for women


1747 – England

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

Hannah Glasse wrote this British best seller that frowned on French food that was presented so a servant or cook from the lower classes could understand it when it was read to them. This was one of the first cookbooks aimed at average/middle class folks who had hired help and it disdained anything French. It was intended as a manual for training lower class, uneducated, servants and was a run away best seller for over a hundred years.

1789 – France

The French revolution begins, heads roll, chefs get downsized and Madame La Farge knits

Only 50% of the population spoke “French” the rest relied on local dialects filled with patois. Mandatory military service, a public school system and road construction were events and measures that helped to standardize language. No national cuisine at this point since its hard to exchange recipes when you don’t speak the same language and just as hard to transport ingredients from place to place with few traversable roads.

1796 – North America

American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life.

Quite a title for the first printed and written North America cookbook. Amelia Simmon’s milestone work featured recipes for many native cultivars that were indicative of the way American foodways had adapted indigenous products and existing native constructs. And of course the fact that she was a woman writing for other women should not be overlooked!

1800 – The World

Latin has been pretty much been replaced by the language of authorship and source country


1810 – France

Nicholas Appert publishes the first book on canning/preserving food


1821 – England

First Cloth Bound Book

London publisher and bookseller William Pickering introduces the first calico bound cloth book with a printed paper spine in tiny 4.5 point type. Smaller type size means more words per page and therefore lower manufacturing costs and selling prices.

1826 – France

Physiologie du gout; The Physiology of Taste

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

1831 – Mexico

El Cocinero Mexicano; The Mexican Chef

The First Printed Cookbook in Mexico

This anonymous author praises the “truly national” spicy constructs of Mexico and looks somewhat despairingly on the French contrived cuisine popular amongst the literate elite of the period. Mexican food is a true mother cuisine developed independently for centuries before the Spanish arrived.


1833 – France

Le Cuisinier Parisien

One of Marie-Antoine Carème most important books even though he wrote more than a half-dozen including one for the Tsar on architecture designs for St. Petersburg, Russia.

1839 – France

Louis-Jacques Daguerre’s photo processed is announced at an Academie des Sciences meeting


1853 – England

First use of wood pulp, using technology and processes invented in 1844, for paper manufacturing. Two thousand years of rag paper production end, except for fine papers, and the modern era of paper and newsprint begins


1860 to 1870 – Italy

Garibaldi begins unifying Italy

Only 5% of the peninsulas unified populations speaks a standardized Italian that would be recognizable today.  Just as in France the development of a national cuisine is still well in the future since there is little exchange of recipes, culture or agricultural differences between the provinces.  Most people living on the peninsula don’t consider themselves “Italian” until the middle of the twentieth century when they still pride their regional ties.


1868 – England

The Smyth sewing machine, which stitches book pages together, was patented in England by David McConnell Smyth. The bindery process is now faster and much stronger.


1871 – France

The Franco Prussian War

France loses territories to Germany that wouldn’t be returned until after WWI and now only 25% of the population speaks the “French” of Paris. The rural provinces each have their own dialects and often have problems communicating with their fellow countrymen making it very hard to exchange recipes which helps to maintain regional differences.

1895 – USA

The Chef’s Reminder

A great little book for the professional to carry in the pocket of their chef’s coat.  I used to own one of these guys and I always kept it in my toolbox at work for quick reference. Had a section for cooking in the dining room meaning crêpe suzettes, steak tartare, rex sole and various other items that were prepared table side with flourish, flair and flame.

 1903 – France

Le Guide Culinaire

Georges Auguste Escoffier’s most important book, although he wrote over a dozen. Enough’s been written about this work to make any further comment superfluous.

1907 – Germany … A Bible

Lexikon der Kuche; Hering’s Dictionary of Classical and Modern Cookery

Almost half a million copies sold of this comprehensive but decidedly professional reference that does not contain one recipe per se even though the latest edition, number 24, is composed of over 31,000 words. Thousands of entries, 979 for eggs, of which 58 are for stuffed renditions, and 569 for Hors-d’oeuvres. These texts assumed you were a professional and didn’t need any instruction but just an occasional reminder of ingredients.

1914 – France … A bible

Le Repertoire de la Cuisine

Written by Louis Saulnier for professionals who had already required the years of experience needed to develop a comprehensive repertoire. No recipes just a listing of ingredients to refresh your memory.

1930 – Switzerland … A Bible

Lehrbuch der kuche; A Manual of the Kitchen {aka} Classical Cooking the Modern Way

Ernst Pauli was the Director of the Lucerne Hotel School when he wrote this cannon of culinary instruction in 1930. Since then it has been refined and updated by both his son and grandson and is now in its thirteenth edition along with CD’s wow!  It, like the other books I’ve marked as BIBLES, was and is meant for trained professionals, those who want to be, or scholars of modern French cuisine.

1935 – France … A Bible

L’Art Culinaire Moderne; Modern French Culinary Art

Henri-Paul Pellaprat wrote this definitive text of over a thousand pages.  Some great photos, done before  there were food stylists, and hundreds of classic old school recipes reside here. I cut my teeth on the 1969 edition of this modern classic. Great constructs like eclairs with goose liver puree, saddle of hare, galantines and lots of rarely seen stuff. Pellaprat was the founder of the modern Paris Cordon Bleu cooking school program.


1938 – France … A Bible

Larousse Gastronomique

A massive missive documenting modern French culinary art with a wealth of illustrations depicting foods and presentations from the past.


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