Buckle up, foodies... Because things are about to get weird.
It's time to go back and look at the oldest foods in the world, but not actual foods, recipes. Believe it or not, before it became socially unacceptable to eat certain things, people were prone to cooking up recipes with whatever they had available. Times were different when culinary masterminds were creating recipes centuries ago and now, we have access to exactly what was going through their minds... which, apparently, was hunger and practicality.
While these recipes are not overly crave-worthy, they are interesting and very telling of the times. Everything, even down to the way a recipe was recorded and passed down, spoke volumes of the era during which it was crafted. The recipes are strange, unusual, and odd, but it was survival nonetheless.
Yale Culinary Tablets
It's not likely that anyone could imagine scribing on tablets nowadays but that's exactly how the Yale Culinary Tablets have been preserved to this day. They date back to 1700 BC and is estimated to be one of, if not the, oldest 'cookbook' in the entire world. The tablets are from the Mesopotamian era and contain what are believed to be the first recorded recipes, many of which likely catered to royalty.
While not easy, experts have been able to decipher what the characters on the tablets mean and have come up with a whopping 25 stew recipes. It's unclear as to why, but from what researchers can gather, the tablets don't contain any actual directions - only the ingredients needed to make each dish. The stew varies from mostly meat to several veggie-based options and even includes a few lists for what is presumed to be bread or dessert.
Libro De Arte Coquinaria
This cookbook came from someone who was hailed as somewhat of a culinary master, Maestro Martino of Como. He was the chef for a well-respected cardinal during the 15th century and as a result, came up with this book of well-loved recipes. He was referred to as 'the prince of cooks' according to Atlas Obscura, and his cookbook is one of the first to provide specific measurements as well as directions.
The Italian manuscript is very detailed in its cooking processes, even down to which utensils are suitable for which dishes. With his reign of cooking occurring during the Medieval era, it's not surprising to see quite a few unusual things on the menu - including how to dress a peacock. More specifically, the title of the recipe is, 'How to Dress a Peacock With All Its Feathers, So That When Cooked, It Appears To Be Alive And Spews Fire From Its Beak.' What anyone wouldn't give to be at that dinner table.
Complete Kitchen And Cellar Dictionary
Found in the Oslo Public Library is a copy of this cookbook, dating back to 1716. The Complete Kitchen and Cellar Dictionary was written by Paul Jacob Marperger, a well-known German writer. The book is extensive and detailed, with recipes and culinary information spanning over the course of more than 1,000 pages.
The book boasts of cooking methods made easy, with the prologue stating, 'Which far exceeds any Thing of the Kind yet published.' The first entry is 'How to Roast and Boil to perfection every Thing necessary to be sent up to the Table' and goes on to talk about 'Hogs pudding,' 'Sausages,' 'Pickling,' 'Cheesecakes,' and even 'Catchup.' For the time, it was truly a work of culinary genius, featuring brilliant - yet easy - ways that cooks could recreate the most complex of dishes in a way that was easy to translate.
The English And Australian Cookery Book
Australia definitely has its own cuisine but back in 1864, it was one that's fairly unrecognizable compared to what foodies can expect there now. Considered to be the first official cookbook of Australia, The English and Australian Cookery Book dates back to the Victorian era. The book was intriguing even back then, having been anonymously written by Edward Abbott, who was an 'aristologist ' - which would have meant an 'expert' on both cooking and eating back in those days.
Those who knew Abbott claim that he was a bit unhinged at times, having once attacked the Tasmanian premier with his umbrella, according to Atlas Obscura. In keeping with the same semi-wild nature, Abbott published this cookbook out of his perceived need to diversity the culinary scene that was happening - or not happening, it would seem - in Australia. As such, unusual recipes appeared in the cookbook, such as kangaroo brains which would be fried with fat from an emu, as well as a diverse cocktail menu, one of which was called 'Blow My Skull;' an intriguing mix of brandy, rum, porter, and finished with lime and sugar.