People have been obsessing about recipes for millennia, says food historian William Sitwell. Ancient Egyptians included stone-carved recipes for bread among their funerary relics, while in 1700 B.C., the Mesopotamians etched the recipe for meat stew into mud tablets. Perhaps the most famous ancient recipe book comes courtesy of first-century Roman foodie Marcus Gavius Apicius, who spent a fortune staging lavish feasts, then poisoned himself after going broke.

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