Anthimus: On the Observance of Foods


ISBN-13 978-1-903018-52-1

Published Oct 2007

142 pages; 138×216 mm; paperback

Price £18 Reprinted 2022


Anthimus, Mark Grant (tr.)

On the Observance of Foods

de obseruatione ciborum

The First French Cookery Book ‘The earliest work to treat of food in what we may properly term the “Middle Ages”.’ Terence Scully, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages Anthimus was a Greek doctor condemned by the Emperor in Constantinople to a life of exile at the court of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, barbarian ruler of Italy at the beginning of the 6th century AD. In the course of his life in Ravenna, he was sent as ambassador to the King of the Franks and wrote, perhaps as a sweetener to his fierce yet royal host, a letter about foods – which were good for you, which bad, and, sometimes, how to cook and serve them. It may reasonably be called the first French cookery book; and this is a new and more accurate modern language edition, printed with the Latin and English in parallel on facing pages. Mark Grant provides a general historical introduction – which corrects various errors of fact in earlier editions, a Latin text based on the editio princeps of 1864, a modern English translation, and a full commentary on the work itself, with many cross-references to classical medical treatises, the literature of classical cookery and modern scholarship insofar as it knows anything of the food and cookery of the early Merovingian Franks.

Sample pages from the Latin text and English translation (PDF)