Mithaecus

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Mithaecus (Ancient Greek: Mithaikos) was a cook and cookbook author of the late 5th century BC. A Greek-speaking native of Sicily at a time when the island was rich and highly civilized, Mithaecus is credited with having brought knowledge of Sicilian gastronomy to Greece.[1] Specifically, according to sources of varying reliability, he worked in Sparta, from which he was expelled as a bad influence,[2] and in Athens. He earned an unfavourable mention in Plato's dialogue Gorgias.[3]

Mithaecus's cookbook was the first in Greek; he is the earliest cookbook author in any language whose name is known. One recipe survives from it, thanks to a quotation in the Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus. It is in the Doric dialect of Greek (appropriate both to Greek Sicily and to Sparta) and describes, in one line, how to deal with the fish Cepola macrophthalma:[4]

Tainia: gut, discard the head, rinse, slice; add cheese and [olive] oil.[5]

The ribbon-like fish here called tainia is known in Italian as cepola and in modern Greek as kordella. The addition of cheese seems to have been a controversial matter; Archestratus is quoted as warning his readers that Syracusan cooks spoil good fish by adding cheese.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dalby (2003), p. 220; Hill and Wilkins (1996), pp. 144-148.
  2. ^ Maximus of Tyre. Dissertations, 17.
  3. ^ Plato. Gorgias, 518c.
  4. ^ Dalby (1996), pp. 109-110.
  5. ^ Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae, 325f; Bilabel (1920). English translation from Dalby (2003), p. 79.
  6. ^ Hill and Wilkins (1996), pp. 144-148.

References[edit]

  • Bilabel, F. (1920). Opsartytiká und Verwandtes. Heidelberg. 
  • Dalby, Andrew (1996). Siren Feasts. Abingdon, Oxon, England: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-15657-2. 
  • Dalby, Andrew (2003). Food in the ancient world from A to Z. Abingdon, Oxon, England: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-23259-7. 
  • Hill, Shaun; Wilkins, John (1996). "Mithaikos and other Greek cooks". In Harlan Walker. Cooks and other people: proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 1995. Totnes: Prospect Books.