The Pantropheon

Or, History of Food, and its Preparation from the Earliest Ages of the World

 Published in Boston in 1853, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection is recognized as a great classic of gastronomy literature. Soyer was a French chef, cookery writer, diet reformer, and culinary inventor who provides a fascinating history of food from ancient Greeks and Romans to his present day, covering everything from the treatment of dinner guests and agricultural milling to ingredients used to season and flavor. 

Published in 1853 in Boston, The Pantropheon provides a fascinating history of food focusing on the table of classical antiquity. Author Alexis Soyer was a renowned “gastronomic genius” in his day, as well as a chef and culinary writer. With beautiful black-and-white illustrations, Soyer presents a wealth of information about food in ancient times: agriculture, milling, recipes, mythological origin, ingredients, utensils, exotic dishes, dining habits and customs, and spices and seasonings. Within this cornucopia of food history, Soyer calls upon Jean Anthelme Brillat Savrin’s quote, “Tell me what thou eatest and I will tell thee who thou art” to perfectly capture the essence of his tome, and it is precisely for this reason that his compendium is still culturally significant today and widely read among historians, food writers, and chefs. 


This edition of The Pantropheon, or, History of Food, and Its Preparation was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the society is a research library documenting the lives of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection comprises approximately 1,100 volumes.   

About the Author

Alexis Soyer was born in France in 1810. As a young man he worked in the kitchen of the Duke of Cambridge in London and later became a chef at a London men’s club. He became passionate about helping the poor who were suffering from the famine in Ireland, and he opened kitchens to feed them at a reduced cost. Soyer continued his social activism for affordable food with works such as Soyer’s Charitable Cookery, A Shilling Cookery for the People, Soyer’s Culinary Campaign, and Instructions for Military Hospitals. He also was the inventor of several cooking stoves, kitchen utensils, and relishes and sauces. Soyer died in London in 1858.  

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