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The Forme of Cury A Roll of Ancient English Cookery Compiled, about A.D. 1390   By: (1704-1796)

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Compiled, about A.D. 1390, by the Master Cooks of King RICHARD II,

Presented afterwards to Queen ELIZABETH, by EDWARD Lord STAFFORD,

And now in the Possession of GUSTAVUS BRANDER, Esq.

Illustrated with NOTES, And a copious INDEX, or GLOSSARY.

A MANUSCRIPT of the EDITOR, of the same Age and Subject, with other congruous Matters, are subjoined.

" ingeniosa gula est." MARTIAL.

TO GUSTAVUS BRANDER, Esq. F.R.S. F.S.A. and Cur. Brit. Mus.


I return your very curious Roll of Cookery, and I trust with some Interest, not full I confess nor legal, but the utmost which your Debtor, from the scantiness of his ability, can at present afford. Indeed, considering your respectable situation in life, and that diffusive sphere of knowledge and science in which you are acting, it must be exceedingly difficult for any one, how well furnished soever, completely to answer your just, or even most moderate demands. I intreat the favour of you, however, to accept for once this short payment in lieu of better,

or at least as a public testimony of that profound regard wherewith I am,


Your affectionate friend, and most obliged servant, St. George's day, 1780.





Without beginning ab ovo on a subject so light (a matter of importance, however, to many a modern Catius or Amasinius), by investigating the origin of the Art of Cookery, and the nature of it as practised by the Antediluvians [1]; without dilating on the several particulars concerning it afterwards amongst the Patriarchs, as found in the Bible [2], I shall turn myself immediately, and without further preamble, to a few cursory observations respecting the Greeks, Romans, Britons, and those other nations, Saxons, Danes, and Normans, with whom the people of this nation are more closely connected.

The Greeks probably derived something of their skill from the East, (from the Lydians principally, whose cooks are much celebrated, [3]) and something from Egypt. A few hints concerning Cookery may be collected from Homer, Aristophanes, Aristotle, &c. but afterwards they possessed many authors on the subject, as may be seen in Athenæus [4]. And as Diætetics were esteemed a branch of the study of medicine, as also they were afterwards [5], so many of those authors were Physicians; and the Cook was undoubtedly a character of high reputation at Athens [6].

As to the Romans; they would of course borrow much of their culinary arts from the Greeks, though the Cook with them, we are told, was one of the lowest of their slaves [7]. In the latter times, however, they had many authors on the subject as well as the Greeks, and the practitioners were men of some Science [8], but, unhappily for us, their compositions are all lost except that which goes under the name of Apicius; concerning which work and its author, the prevailing opinion now seems to be, that it was written about the time of Heliogabalus [9], by one Cælius , (whether Aurelianus is not so certain) and that Apicius is only the title of it [10]. However, the compilation, though not in any great repute, has been several times published by learned men.

The Aborigines of Britain, to come nearer home, could have no great expertness in Cookery, as they had no oil, and we hear nothing of their butter, they used only sheep and oxen, eating neither hares, though so greatly esteemed at Rome, nor hens, nor geese, from a notion of superstition. Nor did they eat fish. There was little corn in the interior part of the island, but they lived on milk and flesh [11]; though it is expressly asserted by Strabo that they had no cheese [12]. The later Britons, however, well knew how to make the best use of the cow, since, as appears from the laws of Hoel Dda , A.D. 943, this animal was a creature so essential, so common and useful in Wales, as to be the standard in rating fines, &c. [13].

Hengist, leader of the Saxons, made grand entertainments for king Vortigern [14], but no particulars have come down to us; and certainly little exquisite can be expected from a people then so extremely barbarous as not to be able either to read or write... Continue reading book >>

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