Recipes that are older than you'd think

(Or, “Suck it, Slow Foodists!”)

Anybody know of recipes that most folks would think are modern but actually aren’t? For example, jello shots date back to at least the mid-1800s; there’s a recipe for “Punch Jelly” in a bartender’s manual published in 1862. After giving the recipe, the author goes on to note:

Quadrilling FTW!

Hmmm, well …

potatoes au gratin started life out as armored turnips.
mustard greens cooked with bacon
beef y-stewed
egg tarts [sort of quiches]

from diverse medieval manuscripts

If your latin is up to it, the cook book of Apicius is pretty much the oldest cook book remaining. The recipes are odd because they are more of an aide memoire for professional chefs of the time who spent years learning to cook, so it takes the form of ingredient lists and an occasional mention of what you do with the, Nothing like modern cookbooks =)

Whoa. I grew up Down Home and the thought of Southern Belles over-partaking makes me regret not having gone to the UVA.

The Romans ate what were to all intents and purposes beefburgers.

Beef jerky (but thats probably a “duh”) is among the oldest types of “prepared food”…
hmm…what else;

The claims of the sandwich being “invented” by Lord Sandwich in the 18th century strike me as ridiculous – you can find a million variants on “bread with filling” dating back to antiquity. (Though I am interested in what, exactly, the Sandwich connection was – he does seem to have inspired a trend among the genteel classes at the time)

Damn, this is tougher than I thought. I’m trying to avoid the truly obvious. Must…get…one…more…

Distilled alcohol (although I bet most don’t have a clear idea on when this came about) was apparently known to Arabian scientists – pretty sure it then disappeared for many centuries.

I could do a few in the opposite direction – although it MUST have existed back-when (its so simple and cheap!), try finding explicit references to French Onion Soup prior to the 1950s.

Caesar Salad – 1920s, probably Tijuana (again, pretty well known these days).

Flatiron Steak – within the last decade. Modern technology.

Oh, one more: the hot-dog (as in the American delicacy we know today) was semi-reliably attested (by HL Mencken) as being old-hat in his childhood years (he born in 1880); most cites I see claim Charles Feltman (circa 1905-1910) or even Nathan Handwerker (of Nathan’s) circa the 'teens.

And Mencken would never lie to us.

Re: the hamburger, I’ve yet to come across any convincing evidence on when this first appeared (no, nomadic tribes tenderizing raw horsemeat under their saddles doesn’t count). Louis’ Lunch claims it, but they date to (apparently) around 1905, and there are similar claims around the same time. In food history, this tends to mean “it was already popular”. Anyone heard a reliable citation before this? Place to check: 1893 Chicago Exposition. If it was popular, it woulda been there. (1904 St. Louis Fair is too late, IMO).

Hm, this strikes me as one of those “faked up after the fact” quotations – I’d be very curious to see an original source for it.

Barry Popik is the resident expert on the origins of food terminology/food history. I’ve linked to his website, but to keep you from reading hundreds of articles, the short version is Barry found the “hot dog” at Yale in the early 1890’s. That totally blew out of the water the stories about the 19xx’s. I believe he’s since found an 1893 cite in Knoxville.

Once again, Barry is the state of the art in finding actual print cites about this. As I also have quite an interest in many food terms, I tend to follow his works and even find some antedatings myself. Barry (and I) can reliably show you Hamburger sandwiches from the early 1890’s in print. It was no longer the ubiquitous “Hamburg Steak” served on a plate, but rather the hamburger that the world knows today. The four main claimants who say they “invented” the hamburger are almost certainly wrong."french+onion+soup"+cheese&lr=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=1900&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=1945&num=30&as_brr=0 1918

I’m interested in history but am not particulary a “Foodie”,I saw the thing about Beefburgers on a British T.V. documentary series called “What the Romans did for us” researched and introduced by Adam Hart-Davis.

A food historian(A woman who’s name I can’t remember) showed how the Romans made a meat patty and served it as fast food.
I can’t remember where she researched it from ,sorry.

Lasagne goes back to at least ancient Rome.

Cheesecake is also very old.


Hello! Here are the recipes for onion soups from Take 1000 Eggs:

Harleian MS. 279, Potage Dyvers
xxx. Soupes dorroy. Shere Oynonys, an frye hem in oyle; [th]anne take Wyne,
an boyle with Oynonys, toste whyte Brede an do on a dysshe, an caste
[th]er-on gode Almaunde Mylke, & temper it wyth wyne: [th]anne do [th]e
dorry a-bowte, an messe it forth.

Laud MS. 553
17 Soupes dorrees. Nym oynons, mynce hem, frie hem in oille de olyue: nym
oynons, boille hem with wyn, tost whit bred, & do it in dishes/ and cast
almand mylke theron, & ye wyn & ye oynons aboue, & gif hit forth.

Harleian MS. 279 - Potage Dyvers
xxxiij. Oyle Soppys. Take a gode quantyte of Oynonys, and mynse hem not
to smale, an sethe in fayre Water: [th]an take hem vp, an take a gode
quantite of Stale Ale, as .iij. galouns, an [th]er-to take a pynte of Oyle
fryid, an caste [th]e Oynonys [th]er-to, an let boyle alle to-gederys a
gode whyle; then caste [th]er-to Safroune, powder Pepyr, Sugre, an Salt, an
serue forth alle hote as tostes, as in [th]e same maner for a Mawlard & of
a capon, & hoc quære.

Harleian MS. 4016
130 Oyle soppes. Take a good quantite of oynons, and myce hem, no[3]t to
smale, & seth hem in faire water, And take hem vppe; and then take a good
quantite of stale ale, as .iij. galons, And there-to take a pynte of goode
oyle that is fraied, and cast the oynons there-to, And lete al boyle
togidre a grete [while]; and caste there-to Saffron and salt, And [th]en
put brede, in maner of brewes, and cast the licour there-on, and serue hit
forth hote.

Cindy Renfrow
renfrow at
Author & Publisher of “Take a Thousand Eggs or More, A Collection of 15th
Century Recipes” and “A Sip Through Time, A Collection of Old Brewing
Index of /renfrow

need me to translate any of these?

I never did believe that the cheeseburger had to wait till 1934 to be discovered, as a Louisville eatery claims. My link cites 1924 as the date and Pasadena as the place, both of which seem more reasonable.

There’s absolutely NO print evidence(other than the 1964 information provided by Sternberger’s brother, Van) that cheeseburgers were invented by Sternberger in the 1920s. This happens to be a pet project of mine.

Cheeseburgers were probably invented in multiple places, but were no doubt out there before 1934.

What in the world does this topic have to do with the Slow Food movement?

Because recipes from centuries ago most definitely count as “slow food” but many Slow Foodists like to think they’ve come up with all this stuff themselves.

Also, because it’s fun to tell people to suck it, and doubly fun when there’s food involved!

That was my take on the OP, anyway.

Interesting. Most slow food (advertised as such) that I’ve seen seemed to be pretty much “traditional” - organically grown beef & pork, raw milk cheeses, stuff like that.