De re coquinaria

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Frontispiece of the edition Apicii Coelii De opsoniis et condimentis by Martin Lister (1709)

De re coquinaria ("About the art of cooking ") is the oldest surviving cookbook from Roman antiquity . The text as it stands is from the 3rd or 4th century.


As the name of the author, Caelius Apicius has been handed down, which refers to several Roman gourmets of this name. None of these is considered an author today, rather it is assumed that it is a collection of recipes that has been expanded and supplemented over a long period of time. It is possible that one of the gourmets in question contributed certain recipes and that is how the attribution came about. It is also possible that the cookbook originated from a collection of recipes put together in honor of one of the gourmets.

Edward Brandt assumed that Marcus Gavius ​​Apicius could have written two cookbooks: One cookbook was general, the second contained sauce recipes . Both books were put together by a copyist and mixed with other recipes from other sources. This would explain the high proportion of sauce recipes of around 100 among the around 400 recipes. The third or fourth century is assumed for the final editing.

De re coquinaria in a manuscript from the Fulda monastery from the 9th century
De re coquinaria in a 15th century manuscript with notes by the humanist Angelo Poliziano . St. Petersburg, Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Codex 627/1 (V 644), fol. 7r

Text transmission

The cookbook has only survived in two Carolingian manuscripts from the 9th century. A manuscript from a monastery in Fulda was bought by the New York Academy of Medicine in 1929 and the original or a copy can be viewed in the academy's library ( Enoch von Ascoli ). The second manuscript is in the Vatican Library. Another, incomplete manuscript was discovered by Alban Thorer on the island of Maguelone near Montpellier ; its whereabouts are unknown.


The recipes do not correspond to the form that we consider typical today. They are short, barely explained cooking suggestions that assume that the reader was familiar with all the basic techniques and cooking ideas of his time - in accordance with today's professional reference works such as Hering's dictionary of the kitchen . Very often the recipe only consists of a list of ingredients, in some cases even the verb is missing, such as “cook” or “fry”. Only a few recipes are given with dimensions, often there is not even an indication such as “a lot” or “little”. An example is the recipe for pork liver:

In ficato oenogarum: piper, thymum, ligusticum, liquamen, vinum modice, oleum.
(Wine arum for liver: pepper , thyme , lovage , garum , wine in moderation and oil.)

Most of the recipes are rather simple. Apicius' cookbook offers hardly any recipes for "orgies" or decadent-looking showers, it also contains hardly any instructions for elaborate table decorations. The recipe collection includes very few unusual dishes like hell teat and stuffed with pork sausage dormice . Apicius often used garum , a spicy sauce made from fish and fish guts, similar to a Vietnamese fish sauce .

Text output

Latin and Latin-German

  • Johann Michael Bernhold : Caelii Apicii de opsoniis et condimentis, sive arte coquinaria libri X cum lectionibus variis atque indice . Knenlein, Marktbreit 1787 ( digitized version )
  • Mary Ella Milham (Ed.): Apicii Decem libri qui dicuntur de re coquinaria et excerpta a vinidario conscripta. Teubner, Leipzig 1969
  • Robert Maier (Ed.): Apicius: De re coquinaria / About the art of cooking . Latin-German. Reclam, Stuttgart 1991, 2018, ISBN 978-3-15-019551-2


  • Ancient Roman culinary art in ten books . Edited and translated into German by Eduard Danneil. Kurt Däweritz, Leipzig 1911
  • The Apicius cookbook from the Roman Empire . Translated into German and edited by Richard Gollmer, Rostock 1928. Reprinted by Komet, Frechen 2000, ISBN 3-923090-41-2 (Volume 12 of the Classical Culinary Art series).


  • Joseph Dommers Vehling : Apicius. Cookery and Dining in Ancient Rome. Hill, Chicago 1936 ( online ). New edition: Dover, New York 1977, ISBN 0-486-23563-7
  • Christopher Grocock, Sally Grainger (Eds.): Apicius: A critical edition with an introduction and English translation. Prospect Books, Blackawton 2006, ISBN 1-903018-13-7

Recipe selection and recipe editing

  • Elisabeth Alföldi-Rosenbaum : The Romans' cookbook. Recipes from the "culinary art" of Apicius . Artemis, Zurich and Munich 1970, ISBN 3-538-07094-6
  • Elisabeth Nerl: Looked into the cooking pot of the ancient Romans. Apicius recipes edited and tried out by Elisabeth Nerl. Spann, Herrsching 1995, ISBN 3-929280-08-6
  • Hans-Peter von Peschke, Werner Feldmann: Cooking like the ancient Romans - 200 Apicius recipes . Albatros, Düsseldorf 2003, ISBN 3-491-96075-4

See also


  • Matthias Bode: Apicius - Notes on the Roman cookbook . Scripta Mercaturae, St. Katharinen, 1999
  • Matthias Bode: On the role of the late antique upper classes in the tradition of the Apicius cookbook . In: Laverna . No. 12, 2001, pp. 139-154
  • Edward Brandt: Investigations on the Roman cookbook. Attempt to solve the Apicius question . Dissertation Munich 1925. Dieterich, Leipzig 1927 ( digitized at
  • Johann Heinrich Dierbach : Flora Apiciana. A contribution to the closer knowledge of the food of the ancient Romans; with special regard to the books of Caelius Apicius de Opsoniis et Medicamentis sive Arte Coquinaria. Heidelberg / Leipzig 1831 ( )
  • J. Edwards: Philology and cuisine in De re coquinaria. In: American Journal of Philology 122, 2001, pp. 255-263
  • Anna Kranzdorf: Apicius. In: Christine Walde (Ed.): The reception of ancient literature. Kulturhistorisches Werklexikon (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 7). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-476-02034-5 , Sp. 27-34.
  • Pauline Schmitt-Pantel: Caelius Apicius. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 2, Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01472-X , Sp. 903.
  • Angel Urbán: Concordantia Apiciana. A concordance to Apicius' De re coquinaria and Excerpta a vinidario. Olms-Weidmann, Hildesheim 1995, ISBN 3-487-09890-3

Web links

Wikisource: De re coquinaria  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Pierre Bayle: "An Historical and Critical Dictionary" p. 132