Apicius - De re coquinaria

Apicius - De re coquinaria Facsimile Edition

Tours (France) — 843–851

A collection of recipes from various ancient gourmets: the oldest cookbook in the world in a magnificent manuscript for Emperor Charlemagne

  1. A priceless 1st century testimonial to Roman cuisine and culture by Caelius Apicius

  2. The work was appended by other gourmets from antiquity like Seneca and Tacitus

  3. This luxurious 9th century specimen is believed to have been a gift for Emperor Charles the Bald (823–877)

Apicius - De re coquinaria

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Apicius - De re coquinaria

The famous Roman cookbook by Apicius in one of only two surviving 9th century manuscripts! The 1st century work by the Roman gourmet Apicius is steeped in history and was probably supplemented and streamlined in the 4th century and is considered today to be a priceless testimonial to Roman cuisine and culture. This splendid manuscript was created around the middle of the 9th century in the famous scriptorium of St. Martin de Tours, which presents the text of Apicius in a luxurious edition. A wonderful historical inside view and still a feast today for modern gourmets!

Apicius - De re coquinaria

The famous Roman cookbook by Apicius in one of only two surviving 9th century manuscripts! The 1st century work by the Roman gourmet Apicius is steeped in history and was probably supplemented and streamlined in the 4th century and is considered today to be a priceless testimonial to Roman cuisine and culture. This splendid manuscript was created around the middle of the 9th century in the famous scriptorium of St. Martin de Tours, which presents the text of Apicius in a luxurious edition. A wonderful historical inside view and still a feast today for modern gourmets!

The Cuisine of Ancient Rome

Stuffed dormice, pig teats, vegetable gratin and asparagus pancakes, fried rays and fish sauce. All of this and more delicacies both typical and unusual are assembled in the cook book by Apicius, De re coquinaria. The text is attributed to a certain Caelius Apicius, a Roman gourmet from the 1st century. Having said this, this name has been handed down and attributed to at least three people in the most varied of sources – Seneca, Tacitus, and in the Historia Augusta – who were considered to be gourmets and who could be associated with the text of the cookbook. The name Apicius was a quasi-synonym for a gourmet in ancient Rome.

A First-Century Cookbook in a Carolingian Manuscript

The oldest surviving cookbook of Roman antiquity is attributed to this Apicius. This collection of 400 recipes is a continuously appended collection of recipes, which was presumably begun in the 1st century and was completed sometime in the 3rd or 4th century. De re coquinaria is a manual for all social classes, containing both everyday recipes as well as fine cuisine. Sauce recipes receive special attention, but numerous complete meals are also depicted. Today, the work only survives in Carolingian manuscripts.

A Coveted Collector’s Item

The famous manuscript of Apicius’ cookbook in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana is a work of Carolingian illumination. It originated in the years 843–851 in the trailblazing scriptorium of St. Martin de Tours. This luxurious edition with its lavish adornment and abundant use of gold was probably a gift for Charles the Bald (823–877). The manuscript finally made its way to Bologna by 1464 and was then acquired by the library of the Dukes of Urbino. Duke Guidobaldo loaned the magnificent cookbook to Angelo Poliziano (who wanted to compare it with his own Apicio, which is found today in St. Petersburg). It came into the Biblioteca Vaticana in 1658 as a part of the library of the Duke of Urbino, it is stored there today under the shelf mark Urb.lat. 1146.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
On the Subject of Cooking
Über die Kochkunst
Apicio - De Re Coquinaria
Size / Format
124 pages / 23.5 × 19.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
843–851
Language
Script
Carolingian minuscule Roman Uncial
Illustrations
2 pages with purple frames and script in gold ink, 4 pages with a table of contents presented in classically-styled arches
Content
Collection of Roman cookery recipes and more divided into ten chapters: On Housekeeping, Minced Meats, Vegetables, Other Ingredients, Legumes, Poultry, Gourmet, Quadrupeds, Seafoods, On Fishing
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Charles the Bald
Angelo Poliziano
Federico de Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino
Guidobaldo Il Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino
Giovanni Andreoli
Lorenzo Brancati
Pope Innocent XII

Available facsimile editions:
Apicius - De re coquinaria – Urb.lat. 1146 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Facsimile Edition
Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2014
Limited Edition: 559 copies

Apicius - De re coquinaria – Urb.lat. 1146 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Facsimile Edition
Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2020
Limited Edition: 559 copies
Detail Picture

Apicius - De re coquinaria

Incipit Page – First Chapter

Chapter 1 of this manuscript is introduced by a splendid incipit page created with only the finest and most expensive materials – green, red, and yellow palmettes, purple dye for the parchment, and gold ink for the text. The incipit introduces a recipe for Conditum Paradoxum, which roughly translates to “surprise spiced wine”. It is a family of spiced wines favored by the Romans whose ingredients included wine, honey, pepper, mastic, laurel, saffron, date seeds, and dates soaked in wine.

Apicio - De re coquinaria
Single Page

Apicius - De re coquinaria

Table of Contents

Four pages with architectural frames resembling Eusebian canon tables present the manuscript’s table of contents. The title of the first book in large red letters is incomplete without the opposite page: Epimeles Li[beri] or “The Careful Housekeeper”. The grey elements are actually tarnished silver, which would have originally shone alongside the gold on the page.

Decorative arcades with stylized foliage, birds, and hanging lamps rest on fine columns with ornate acanthus capitals. The use of a double arch, with the smaller of the arches containing the Roman numerals for each chapter, is quite unique and together with the square shape of the pages indicates that this manuscript was closely modelled on an ancient original.

Apicio - De re coquinaria
Facsimile Editions

#1 Apicio - De re coquinaria

Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2014

Publisher: Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2014
Limited Edition: 559 copies
Binding: Velvet with gilded studs
Commentary: 1 volume by Giovanni Battista Baseggio
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Regular price without login (like new)1,580 
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#2 Apicio - De Re Coquinaria (Leather edition)

Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2020

Publisher: Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2020
Limited Edition: 559 copies
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
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