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Early instances
Apicius, P re culinaria, an early collection of recipes.

The earliest known written recipes day to 1730 BC and were noted on cuneiform tablets present in Mesopotamia.

Other early prepared recipes time from around 1600 BC and come from an Akkadian tablet from southern Babylonia. There’s also works in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs depicting the planning of food.

Several old Greek recipes are known. Mithaecus’s cookbook was an early on one, but nearly all of it’s been missing; Athenaeus estimates one short recipe in his Deipnosophistae. Athenaeus mentions many other cookbooks, all of them lost.

Roman recipes are known starting in the second century BCE with Cato the Elder’s Delaware Agri Cultura. Many writers of the period defined eastern Mediterranean cooking in Greek and in Latin. Some Punic recipes are identified in Greek and Latin translation.

The large collection of recipes P re coquinaria, conventionally titled Apicius, seemed in the 4th or 5th century and is the only complete surviving cookbook from the classical world. It lists the courses offered in dinner as Gustatio (appetizer), Primae Mensae (main course) and Secundae Mensae (dessert). Each recipe starts with the Latin order “Take…,” “Recipe….”

Arabic recipes are noted starting in the 10th century; see al-Warraq and al-Baghdadi.

The first formula in Persian dates from the 14th century. A few recipes have survived from the time of Safavids, including Karnameh (1521) by Mohammad Ali Bavarchi, which includes the preparing instruction of more than 130 various dishes and pastries, and Madat-ol-Hayat (1597) by Nurollah Ashpaz. Menu books from the Qajar era are numerous, the absolute most notable being Khorak-ha-ye Irani by king Nader Mirza.

Master Richard II of England commissioned a menu book called Forme of Cury in 1390, and about the same time, yet another guide was printed named Curye on Inglish, “cury” meaning cooking. Equally publications provide an impression of how food for the noble courses was organized and served in England at that time. The lavish taste of the aristocracy in the Early Modern Period produced with it the start of what can be named the modern menu book. By the 15th century, numerous manuscripts were appearing explaining the recipes of the day. A number of these manuscripts provide very good data and report the re-discovery of several herbs and spices including coriander, parsley, basil and rosemary, several that had been cut back from the Crusades.