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The big fact about Archestratus is that the fragments that survive constitute the earliest written culinary text to come down to us from the classical world (pedants might argue that the Babylonian and Egyptian materials are earlier but they in no way resemble a book.) This remarkable and almost unique work was written in the 4th century BC by the poet...
The big fact about Archestratus is that the fragments that survive constitute the earliest written culinary text to come down to us from the classical world (pedants might argue that the Babylonian and Egyptian materials are earlier but they in no way resemble a book.) This remarkable and almost unique work was written in the 4th century BC by the poet Archestratus, from Gela, a Greek colony in Sicily. The complete text has long since vanished but these fragments or quotations enshrined in a much later book by Athenaeus have survived. Archestratus' description of the foods, particularly fish, available, how they should be cooked and where found in the best condition is precious testimony of the strength of the Mediterranean culinary tradition. His style of cooking can best be called the nouvelle cuisine of the ancient world, and contrasts piquantly with the elaborate and strongly flavoured dishes of Apicius, the much later and perhaps coarser Roman author. The Greek verse has been translated into prose by John Wilkins and Shaun Hill, who set it in context in their introduction, and pursue byways of ancient Greek cookery in their commentary.
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