Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Oldest Recipe Books

Some of the oldest recipes come from Babylonia ca. 1750 B.C.E., the time of Hammurabi. They are inscribed in Akkadian and are clearly meant for experienced chefs because they are not detailed. Entire steps are skipped. Addition of fat and/or water is assumed. No measurements or timings are given. They assume a common culinary expertise. The recipes are both elaborate and call for rare ingredients which implies that they were meant for the royal palace or the temple. This tablet includes recipes for 25 stews — 21 involving meat and 4 involving vegetables. This one has seven detailed recipes. The second recipe involves "small birds".
Remove the head and feet. Open the body and clean the birds, reserving the gizzards and the pluck. Split the gizzards and clean them. Next rinse the birds and flatten them. Prepare a pot and put birds, gizzards and pluck into it before placing it on the fire.

Put the pot back on the fire. Rinse out a pot with fresh water. Place beaten milk into it and place it on the fire. Take the pot (containing the birds) and drain it. Cut off the inedible parts, then salt the rest, and add them to the vessel with the milk, to which you must add some fat. Also add some rue, which has already been stripped and cleaned. When it has come to a boil, add minced leek, garlic, samidu and onion (but not too much onion).

Rinse crushed grain, then soften it in milk and add to it, as you kneed it, salt, samidu, leeks and garlic along with enough milk and oil so that a soft dough will result which you will expose to the heat of the fire for a moment. Then cut it into two pieces. Take a platter large enough to hold the birds. Place the prepared dough on the bottom of the plate. Be careful that it hangs over the rim of the platter only a little. Place it on top of the oven to cook it. On the dough which has already been seasoned, place the pieces of the birds as well as the gizzards and pluck. Cover it with the bread lid [which has meanwhile been baked] and send it to the table.
(Source: Yale Babylonian Collection.)

No comments: