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I strongly believe that food is a fundamental part of a country's tradition, so which is the first culinary book ever written?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

A collection of 26 Babylonian recipe tablets written in Akkadian from 1700BC have been deciphered. Here is an interesting newspaper article on the translations by a chef-turned-antiquarian:

Recipe tablets from the Yale Babylonian Collection, previously thought to contain pharmaceutical formulas, have been decoded by French Assyriologist and gourmet chef Jean Bottero. The three Akkadian tablets, dating to about 1700 BC, revealed, Bottero wrote in a description of his find, "a cuisine of striking richness, refinement, sophistication and artistry, which is surprising from such an early period. Previously we would not have dared to think a cuisine 4,000 years old was so advanced."

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Now, that's cool! – Felix Goldberg Jan 3 '13 at 19:34

Wikipedia has a list, starting with:

The earliest collection of recipes that has survived in Europe is De re coquinaria, written in Latin. An early version was first compiled sometime in the 1st century and has often been attributed to the Roman gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, though this has been cast in doubt by modern research. An Apicius came to designate a book of recipes. The current text appears to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century; the first print edition is from 1483.

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