This week, let’s take a trip back in time! The oldest publication in the Culinary History Collection here at Virginia Tech is from 1692. It’s 24 pages of selected material, excerpted from a larger work. The title, you ask?
A Pocket-Companion, Containing Things Necessary to be Known by all that Values Their Health and Happiness: Being a Plain Way of Nature’s Own Prescribing, to Cure Most Diseases in Men, Women and Children, by Kitchen-Physick Only. To Which is Added, an Account of How a Man May Live Well and Plentifully for Two-Pence a Day/Collected from The Good Housewife Made a Doctor, by Tho. Tryon.
(Excuse me a moment, my fingers need a rest…) The text block is in a modern binding—you can see some of the marbled paper in the images above—but the original pages are chock full of “ſ” (long s) and “i”s replaced with “y”s.
Although the title says it all, basically, in 20 pages, we’re provided a selection of recipes—from sugar-candy to wine, to “sallads”—as well as brief nutrition information about these and a few other specific foods, how to eat/prepare them, and in what quantities one should consume them. The excerpt related to living on two-pence is a summary of how much food one can live on in a day, with a couple of household hints thrown in for good measure.
It’s worth noting that Thomas Tryon, the author of the larger work, wrote many books on a variety of topics during his life: nutrition and food, wine-making, how to find happiness in life, the treatment of slaves, and of course, the perils of alcohol and tobacco. All without a formal education! He was also a convert to vegetarianism, interested in both animal rights and conservation, and a hatter by trade.