The origin of many modern dishes can be traced back to ancient times, but there are very few surviving texts written before 1000 AD that deal with cooking. In many cases where texts exist, the recipes and directions they provide are little more than guidelines and assume much knowledge on the part of the cook.
For example the following is a recipe taken from the Forme of Cury, a roll of cookery written around 1390 by the master cooks of King Richard II of England.
- Take rote of persel, of pasternak, of rafens, scrape hem and waische hem clene. Take rapes & caboches, ypared and icorue. Take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire; cast alle þise þerinne. Whan þey buth boiled cast þerto peeres, & parboile hem wel. Take alle þise thynges vp & lat it kele on a faire cloth. Do þerto salt; whan it is colde, do hit in a vessel; take vyneger & powdour & safroun & do þerto, & lat alle þise thynges lye þerin al nyyt, oþer al day. Take wyne greke & hony, clarified togider; take lumbarde mustard & raisons coraunce, al hoole, & grynde powdour of canel, powdour douce & aneys hole, & fenell seed. Take alle þise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe, & take þerof whan þou wilt & serue forth.
This recipe, which is written in late Middle English, is open to interpretation as it gives no specific quantities and assumes that the reader will know how long certain things need to be cooked, soaked, etc.
You shouldn't let this deter you from reading old texts concerning cookery; indeed there is a certain degree of fun in taking an old recipe and determining how it might have been prepared.
Some books dealing with ancient cookery are:
- The Forme of Cury, 1390 - http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext05/8cury10.txt
- More links at http://cunnan.sca.org.au/wiki/Recipe
- Cranberries, blueberries, huckleberries, strawberries
- Pumpkins, zucchini
- Black Walnuts
- Chilli Peppers, bell peppers
- Amaranth, tobacco
- Sweet Potatoes
- Chocolate, from cacao bean
- Atanasovsko Salt
- Wieliczka Salt
- Baskunchak Salt
- Brussels sprouts
- Coffee, originated in Ethiopia
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Chinese Herbs
- Rose Apple
- Sea Apple
Siam / Thailand
- Galanga, Galangal, Greater Galangal
- Thai Ginger (Krachai)
- Hot Basil, Sweet Basil, Lemony Basil
- Blackcurrant, north asia