A recipe is a set of instructions that describes how to prepare or make a culinary dish (is what the dictionary says about recipes) but we like to believe a recipe is much more. . . A recipe is a an inspiration transformed with letters into words and passed down generations on how to achieve one of life's greatest secrets . . . happiness
The earliest known written recipes date from approximately 1600 BC and come from an Akkadian tablet from southern Babylonia There are also ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting the preparation of food.
Roman recipes are known starting in the 2nd century BCE with Cato the Elder's De Agri Cultura. Many authors of this period described eastern Mediterranean cooking in Greek and in Latin. Some Punic recipes are known in Greek and Latin translation
The large collection of recipes De re coquinaria, conventionally titled Apicus, appeared in the 4th or 5th century and is the only complete surviving cookbook from the classical world. It lists the courses served in a meal as Gustatio (appetizer), Primae Mensae (main course) and Secundae Mensae (dessert). Each recipe begins with the Latin command "Take...," "Recipe...."
Arabic recipes are documented starting in the 10th century.
King Richard II of England commissioned a recipe book called Forme of Cury in 1390, and around the same time, another book was published entitled Curry on Inglish, "cury" meaning cooking. Both books give an impression of how food for the noble classes was prepared and served in England at that time. The luxurious taste of the aristocracy in the Early Modern Period brought with it the start of what can be called the modern recipe book. By the 15th century, numerous manuscripts were appearing detailing the recipes of the day. Many of these manuscripts give very good information and record the re-discovery of many herbs and spices including coriander, parsley, basil and rosemary, many of which had been brought back from the Crusades.
Modern recipes and cooking advice
With the advent of the printing press in the 16th and 17th centuries, numerous books were written on how to manage households and prepare food. In Holland[ and England, competition grew between the noble families as to who could prepare the most lavish banquet. By the 1660s, cookery progressed to an art form and good cooks were in demand. Many families published their own books detailing their recipes in competition with their rivals. Many of these books have been translated and are available online.
By the 19th century, the Victorian preoccupation for domestic respectability brought about the emergence of cookery writing in its modern form. Although eclipsed in fame and regard by Isabella Beeton, the first modern cookery writer and compiler of recipes for the home was Eliza Acton. Her pioneering cookbook, Modern Cookery for Private Families published in 1845, was aimed at the domestic reader rather than the professional cook or chef. This was immensely influential, establishing the format for modern writing about cookery. It introduced the now-universal practice of listing the ingredients and suggested cooking times with each recipe. It included the first recipe for Brussels sprouts. Contemporary chef Delia Smith called Acton "the best writer of recipes in the English language." Modern Cookery long survived Acton, remaining in print until 1914 and available more recently in facsimile.
Acton's work was an important influence on Isabella Beeton, who published Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management in 24 monthly parts between 1857 and 1861. This was a guide to running a Victorian household, with advice on fashion, child care, animal husbandry, poisons, the management of servants, science, religion, and industrialism. Of the 1,112 pages, over 900 contained recipes. Most were illustrated with coloured engravings. It is said that many of the recipes were plagiarised from earlier writers such as Acton, but the Beetons never claimed that the book's contents were original. It was intended as a reliable guide for the aspirant middle classes.
The American cook Fannie Farmer (1857–1915) published in 1896 her famous work The Boston Cooking School Cookbook which contained some 1,849 recipes.