25 April 2006

Ancient Meals?

What did people eat centuries ago? –Long before money hungry multi-national corporations un-naturally speed-slaughtered speed-raised animals and flung nutrient-depleted fast-trash garbage wrapped in toxic-laced packaging at the hungry and the ignorant: What ingredients, foods, spices –meals were enjoyed by the well-fed? Once upon a time a Roman gourmand wrote a food manuscript. As long-time participant of Culinary Historians, this author recently received the following:

Help Save Marcus Apicius!

Most Culinary Historians know about the cookery manuscript attributed to Marcus Apicius, the first century Roman gourmand. Containing five hundred recipes, the manuscript was assembled and hand copied in the fourth century. In the ninth century, monks at the Fulda monastery in Germany recopied the recipes in a simple manuscript adorned by red letters. This ninth century manuscript has amazingly survived through twelve hundred years of wars and natural disasters and is believed to be the earliest copy of Apicius, the only recipe collection we have from the ancient Mediterranean.

During the Reformation, the manuscript was shipped to the Vatican Library, which also owned another, slightly later, set of Apicius’s recipes. The Vatican sold the Fulda manuscript to a private collector. The manuscript was sold at auction and eventually was given to the New York Academy of Medicine. The 1,200 year old manuscript is falling apart and needs to be rebound. The New York Academy of Medicine approached a professional manuscript restorer; the estimated cost of rebinding is $15,000.

The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic partner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has taken on the task of raising the necessary funds to restore this manuscript and to promote the importance of preserving our culinary heritage. All funds collected will go directly to this restoration project. For more information about the Trust, go to: The Culinary Trust

I’d be delighted to answer any questions– please email me at asmith1946@aol.com

Andrew F. Smith
Vice Chair/Chair elect
The Culinary Trust

Remedy: Should you be wanting to do something positive, make this part of your legacy for future generations, you can participate in restoring the manuscript with donation –any amount, even $10. is ten dollars more than they have now, to save an ancient part of our history. The Great Fire in Rome destroyed nearly all the books written up to that time. What a splendid treasure has survived, can be restored. If you know an individual or an organization who would like to donate to help restore this ancient manuscript: please forward.

Tags: ancient Food, ancient meals, ancient manuscript, Roman ancient recipes, printed matter restoration, Culinary Historians


  1. I would love to read what it is you have to say about this important subject, but your choice of text color and hideous background makes this post--and the rest of your blog--impossible to read, at least in my two different browsers.

    I used cut and paste to be able to read the post--which is a good one. I have often refered to Apicius's book over the last 20 years. In fact, in looking for answers on what to do with a half-pig, just the other day I perused all of his pork recipes, looking for that retro-twist.

  2. Hi, Thanks for comments, chef. But "hideous"...blog???
    -Text font: dark navy blue, serif, Times Roman, for easy reading
    -on Background: wheat-color.
    -Border: deep burgundy-brown, 1/2 wide pattern
    -Margin text (links, archives, etc.), quoted text: black font. Other blogs also use this background, which appears same to me as my blog. Thanks for 'heads up.' What do you see?

    Will you donate to help save the manuscript? Poppy

  3. Ah, I see. . .either you or I must be color blind. The background to your blog--in my three browsers--is a dark brown pattern with light brown florets of some kind. Some of the text is a bright blue, other text is a grey blue.

    It seems like some how your border has spread to the whole page in Mac browsers. Also, everything else on the page is all dislocated--like the google ads appear in the middle of your post and everything else is a bit of a jumble.

    Perhaps it's your background template, because I frequently read countless other blogger blogs with no problem.

    As a member of the IACP I am currently working with the culinary trust on this project.
    All the best.