The Llibre d’aparellar de menjar is a beautiful example of cookbook from the Catalonia region, in the Southern area of Spain. The codex, written in Catalan in the second half of the 14th century, contains some 300 recipes providing us with interesting information, ingredients, and tricks of typical medieval cuisine. Due to its daily-life-content the book has great historical value and relevance.
The Llibre d’Aparellar de Menjar and Its Models
In the Middle Ages the use of sources and templates prior to the composition of new works was the norm. Not surprisingly, the concept of authorship was very different from modern days. Thus, according to this custom, we should not be surprised to find in the Llibre d’aparellar de menjar an unabashed use of recipes from other cookbooks.
Far from being a demerit, this custom has allowed the making of a synthesis of gastronomic literature providing us with the origins of Catalan culinary tradition. With its 279 recipes, the Llibre d’aparellar de menjar contains the highest number of recipes followed by the Llibre de potatges with 220 recipes, Llibre del Coch with 229 recipes, and the Llibre de Sent Sovi with 72.
The Manuscript and Its Unfinished State
Also known as MS 2112, this codex has come down to us well preserved and consisting of forty pages copied by one scribe. Contrary to what is customary in texts of practical content such as the Llibre d’aparellar de menjar, the pages of this codex exhibit virtually no notes, marks or other traces left by users. This is due, probably, to the unfinished state of the manuscript.
The scribe of the work stopped drafting suddenly. So suddenly that he did not even complete the last sentence of the book. Although the life of the manuscript seems to be quite obscure, as far as its genesis goes, we can pinpoint at least one model for the creation of this book: the Llibre de Sent Sovi.
An Interesting Example of Cursive Script
Unfortunately, the commissioner and patron are unknown. The scribe used a cursive script, typically used in documents, featuring abbreviations, ligatures, and the use of a thin and pointed pen.