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Oct 3, 2012 11:33 AM

Very old cookbooks and cookbooks of very old recipes.

I want to make some recipes from time past and am soliciting advice on each of the following:

American Colonial -- pre revolution
Italy prior to the introduction of tomatoes
Pre-Renaissance England and continental Europe
fermented anything (beer, wine, meads, exotic fermentations, etc.) prior to 1850 anywhere in the world.

Do you have recommendations for period cookbooks or for more current cookbooks or websites that have authentic recipes from the relevant places and times?

My contribution for the curious: The gentleman who runs ( has translated some Indian recipes from the mid to late 1500's as found in an emperor's house papers. He has also interpreted some of them.

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  1. FoodTimeLine is a good starting place.
    Recipewise is a good source on British recipes going back to Medieval days. They used to be 'Historical Foods', but now most of their recipes are behind a paywall.

    1. Lorna Sass (better known for her pressure-cooker cookbooks) has written a couple of books updating British recipes from the medieval and Elizabethan periods:

      1. "To the King's Taste":

      2. "To the Queen's Taste":

      Both are out of print but can be found used through Amazon, Alibris, etc.

      There's also this website, with recipes from England, France, Germany, and Italy:

      1. Apicius seems to fit. There's a (brief) recipe on the wikipedia page with links to primary and secondary sources.

        You also ought to check

        1 Reply
        1. re: pinehurst

          I've looked through Apicus in the library and it is amazing how similar some techniques are between 2000 years ago and today.

          @castorpman on Twitter

        2. Try Project Gutenberg and Google Books -- both sources are free and have really interesting titles. I'm pretty sure I've seen books pre-1850 on both sites.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TerriL

            You can get "The Forme of Cury", a 14th century British cookbook on free book sites. I've cooked some recipes from it, but it did require some interpretation, and an on-line dictionary of medieval cooking terms. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious some of the dishes turned out.

          2. Wow, thanks! Just the five of you are going to keep me busy for a good long time.