When De Triclinio was printed in 1590, the United States wasn’t even an idea, Sir Isaac Newton had yet to discover gravity and Shakespeare had just debuted his first play. So it’s a time warp to hold a vellum-bound second edition of the work, also known as Pedro Chacon’s Survey of Classical Roman Dining Customs, which outlines in Latin the ancient culture’s eating habits—cuisine to etiquette, table settings to music.
De Triclinio is the oldest piece in Bauman Rare Books’ Fine Food & Drink exhibit. The Bar-Tender’s Guide, a Complete Cyclopaedia of Plain and Fancy Drinks is another title of distinction, written by Metropolitan Hotel bartender Jerry Thomas in 1862. It’s the first cocktail manual published in the U.S. and is the most expensive of the cookbooks at $9,000. Close behind, at $8,500, is a London Punch-House trading card featuring James Ashley, “the world’s first celebrity mixologist” and father of the modern cocktail.
The show boasts other firsts, including the first French and Jewish cookbooks published in the States and 1838’s Vegetable Diet, one of the earliest books on vegetarianism. The collection spans history, ranging from Prohibition-era alcohol-making instructions to titles by celebrated food icons James Beard and M.F.K. Fisher. “David Bauman really wants to educate,” says Bauman rep Mary Olsson, “make the public more aware that [historical cookbooks are] out there and this great history exists.”
Fine Food & Drink Through April 12, Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight. Grand Canal Shoppes, 702-948-1617.
FINDING A UNICORN
There are classics: Julia Child, Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens. And valuable rarities: titles by horror actor Vincent Price and The Woman Suffrage Cook Book. But there’s only one new book stocked by Amber Unicorn: The Flavor Bible, a thick authority on mixing ingredients, and a necessity for all cooks, says Myrna Donato, who owns the book shop with her husband, Lou. Donato has collected cookbooks since age 10 and stocks about 16,000—one of the most admired collections in the country. She prefers classics, and anything by America’s Test Kitchen or Williams-Sonoma. “You know you can open the book and it’s going to work.”
Amber Unicorn 2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #14, 702-648-9303. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.