Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

As abundant as they are today, the history of cookbooks is complex and filled with exciting stories.

Cookbooks are among some of the most fascinating materials on the market. They may not be as entertaining as fiction novels or as imperatively informative as textbooks, but they still provide their unique value. As a compilation of meals people love, every page is a glimpse into people’s lives. Cookbooks are like a present from one person to another, a transfer of intimate information one family has treasured to others.

Publishing such materials has become a norm in literature. It’s a common volume readers can find in almost every library and bookstore. It has also become a significant part of household shelves, a book tucked neatly in their kitchen cabinets. Cookbooks have become a reference whenever people are at a loss regarding meals they wish to prepare for the day.

They play a consequential role in most routines.

However, they were not always a staple in households. They were never as accessible as they are now. The history of cookbooks is as complicated to trace as the most difficult dessert to make.

The History of Cookbooks, Back When Cooking Wasn’t A Hobby

Generation of Good Food, a cookbook by Eleanor Gaccetta, captures stories her family has passed down from generation to generation. Weaved through the different dishes and recipes Eleanor outlines, the book illustrates how its pages can reflect stories and life in those days.

Cookbooks can serve a similar purpose as storybooks. They document narratives and events that had once unfolded, a means of capturing memories and passing them on to others to relive. This essence has long been encapsulated throughout the history of cookbooks.

Cookbooks were not always readily available as today. At one time were a privilege rather than a massive publication. The history of cookbooks details the material as a privilege fit only for kings and queens, a property limited to the wealthiest names. Instead of a reference helping people enrich their kitchen experiences, cookbooks were once a demarcating line between different classes.

Only the upper echelons had access to this material.

Cooking, especially grand dishes, was a privilege rather than something people did as a hobby. Resources were limited, and the upper class had ready access to them. Consequently, cookbooks were limited and used by the upper class. In the history of cookbooks, they were merely a means of protecting meals that royalties would have enjoyed, capturing the luxury of their gatherings and banquets.

Cookbooks were a symbol of grandeur. They weren’t something people could pass around to promote and establish a name within the food industry.

The Oldest Recorded Recipe and Book

The oldest copies found in the history of cookbooks were the Yale tablets. Made in 1700 BC, these are four clay tablets containing a stew recipe. The recipe included meat, smoked wood, vinegar, and herbs. The meal is said to have been the kings’ and their concubines’ favorite for 300 years, and its popularity has been captured in multiple stories. After the Yale tablets, the next recorded cookbook was the Forme of Cury. This was written for King Richard II in 1390. It includes the king’s favorite meals, perhaps to ensure that whatever happened to his chefs, he could still enjoy his food the way he wanted.

The history of cookbooks captures how cooking was once only a showcase of luxury. Cookbooks were also only invented to protect these recipes for these individual’s satisfaction. It’s much like it is now; fortunately, times have changed, and these materials have become accessible to everyone.

Seeing as how the first officially recorded cookbook happened to be a tablet, it can be deduced that the history of cookbooks might date back thousands of years. The Yale tablets might not even be the first-ever cookbook. Primitive men might have had a means of recording recipes on their own, which has only been wiped out for the current society to celebrate.

Indeed, it can be human nature to document their experiences, whether to help them remember or as a means of safekeeping memories. It wouldn’t be surprising if more historical forms of cookbooks are yet to be discovered.

The Future of Its Publications

The history of cookbooks shows how it can be a timeless publication. After all, everyone eats and enjoys good food regardless of their period. Especially in today’s society, where everyone shares their experiences online for others to see, cookbooks can come in handy. They can serve as a means for others to share experiences, those they desire to encounter and believe will enhance their lives.

Cookbooks and their timeless essence is a genre in literature that will continue to exist and be popularized through time. Its format and type of recipes may vary depending on its publication and the period it encapsulates. But the purpose it serves and the community it bonds will remain.

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