Until now, we published three books in English (and some more in Italian), but we are working on others that will be available soon. The first is a book about foods in ancient Rome, the second is the translation of a medieval source, titled Registrum Coquine, dating to the 15th century, and the last the translation of an early-medieval book titled De Observatione Ciborum, written by the Byzantine physician Anthimus in the 6th century.
On Amazon, you find our new book De Observatione Ciborum. Early-medieval recipes at the court of the Franks, in English and Italian. Written in the 6th century by the Byzantine physician Anthimus as a letter to Theuderic, the king of the Franks, De Observatione Ciborum is one of the earliest medieval sources on cooking and dietetics written in Latin, which shows the moment of passage between ancient and medieval traditions, with a focus on the foods and beverages used by the Franks. In our book, like in the previous Registrum Coquine. A medieval cookbook, you will find not only the translation of this text but also an introduction that puts Anthimus’ work into context and a glossary with the peculiar Latin used by this non-native author.
The book is available in e-book and printed editions.
“Halfway between a dietetic treatise and a cookbook, De Observatione Ciborum was written in the 6th century by the Byzantine physician Anthimus as a letter to Theuderic, the king of the Franks. Through the descriptions of the aliments, their properties, and the healthiest methods to prepare them, Anthimus shows the uses of the Franks, revealing the differences between them and the Mediterranean peoples and at the same time the similarities, especially in the language and traditional foods and beverages such as tesana, melca, wormwood wine, laredum, or mead, and recording the passage from a culinary culture based on olive oil to one that prefers animal fats.
De Observatione Ciborum is a fascinating reading, in which a peculiar Latin is used as a lingua franca between two non-native speakers, a source that allows the enthusiast of food history to catch a glimpse of a fundamental cultural metamorphosis and understand how the ancient traditions will transform throughout the centuries to become something new though deeply rooted in the past.”
The Registrum Coquine by Johannes Bockenheim is a beautiful 15th-century cookbook, available on Amazon in English and Italian.
The text, present in two different manuscripts, collects more than 80 recipes for the fat and lean days, with several methods for meat, fish, pies, sweets, stews, soups, and other dishes. The peculiarity of the Registrum Coquine is that all the recipes are suggested to specific social classes or nationalities, so we find foods destined to peasants and princes, laics and mercenaries, prostitutes and actors, in a colorful representation of medieval society.
In the introduction, we explored the relationship between foods and social classes, the ingredients, the sources, the basic preparations given for granted by the author, confronting the information offered by this text with other primary sources between the Antiquity and Renaissance.
We did not write this book specifically for scholars, but for enthusiasts and everyone who wants to know more about medieval foods and perhaps prepare the recipes at home, reading an original source directly.
Moreover, the Registrum Coquine is the perfect cookbook to get started with medieval cuisine. It is simpler than others written in the same period and most recipes are easy to recreate, with the need of just a few additional recommendations meant for beginners. It is perfect not only because it is simple, but also because the author uses a few well-selected ingredients, which we explained in detail in the introduction.
It is important to remember that the Registrum Coquine is part of a precise historical context, and this means that the author is addressing his work to a reader who knows his language, the basic methods; a reader who shares with him centuries of traditions. For this reason, we need, first of all, to understand what he intends comparing the text with other sources, near or distant in time, that refer to the same tradition, to the same concepts and culinary ideas.
This book can be used in many ways: as a general introduction to medieval cooking, as a translation (with the glossary of Bockenheim’s terms), or as a handbook to actually prepare medieval recipes starting from scratch, something that our follower asked us several times. We believe that the interest in historical cuisine should not be exclusively academic, but also practical, to rediscover an extraordinary gastronomic patrimony that deserves to be known in its authenticity. And the best way to know historical cuisine is to try the recipes.
Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, recipes, sources is available on Amazon. Here you find the Italian edition.
The first part of the book is dedicated to the sources and our method of research, with chapters about how ancient Romans experienced food between the richest convivia and simple meals, in the city and countryside, seen by authors and poets as an idyllic place of abundance distant from the chaos of the Urbs. The second part explains the ingredients available in ancient Rome, with particular attention to the villae, and the ways to preserve foods, from vegetables and fruit to cheese, meat, fish, garum, wine, oil, and honey. In the third part, there are the recipes, selected from Pliny, Columella, Palladius, Cato, and De Re Coquinaria, the cookbook conventionally attributed to Apicius.
On Amazon, you find a preview of the book with the index.
“Ancient Roman gastronomy was famous for an incomparable skill in the art of pairing the ingredients, with its Mediterranean flavors and healthy balance among the aromas.
Many sources record the greatness of Roman cuisine. Writers and poets celebrate its beauty, complexity, decadence, and at the same time, its simplicity. Agronomists tell the life in the countryside, showing the farming techniques and the preparation of common preserves, from cured meat to cheese, vegetables, fruit. Cooks focus on providing unique sensorial experiences through the learned use of ingredients that belong to our history, now almost forgotten. Silphium, garum, mulsum, allec, sapa are just some of them.
A journey back in time through ingredients and recipes, from the republican age to the empire, to rediscover an extraordinary culinary tradition that will satisfy, still today, the most refined palates.”