This translation of perhaps the earliest known complete cookbook is considered by many to be the most meticulous and the first to offer cookable recipes without any compromise of the original Roman Cookery.
Virtually nothing is known of Apicius himself, apparently a cook at the time of the Emperor Tiberius (first century C.E.). The earliest manuscript of his recipes dates to an anonymous fourth or fifth century scribe/editor, who took Apicius’s rather luxurious recipes and combined them with a selection of directions for simpler, more humble dishes from earlier works and fragments of a text on agriculture by one Apuleius.
Rediscovered in the fifteenth century, the book, known simply as Apicius, went through numerous revisions and new editions, which form the basis of this translation by Latin scholars (and cooks) Barbara Flower and Elizabeth Rosenbaum. Published in London by Harrup in 1958, with Latin and English translation on facing pages, quickly became the most widely accepted version of the great book. As a work of scholarship it is satisfyingly conscientious, with hundreds of explanatory notes discussing cooking procedures and endeavoring to resolve textual difficulties.
The content makes fascinating reading, even for those who do not plan to cook a Roman meal. We are provided a clear vision of the Roman kitchen, which required a huge range of exotic ingredients, many from the far reaches of the empire, and massive labor to produce many of these dishes. As the fifth century manuscript editor intended, the range of recipes is wide, from a simple dish that might be on anyone’s table (the entire recipe for Boiled Beets: “They are good served with a dressing of mustard, a little oil, and vinegar.”) to such banquet extravaganzas as Flamingo, prepared with a dozen or more flavoring agents (“This same recipe,” we are advised, “can also be used for parrots.”)
Our copy is a first edition in Very Good condition —clean and clearly not cooked from. The case is clean and the binding strong. The dust jacket is lightly chipped at the corners but otherwise excellent in all respects.