Gastronomy Renaissance Style

      Cinque invenzioni di Leonardo da Vinci in cucina

Information from wikipedia, and from SBS Italian enhanced by creative commons images 

https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/four-kitchen-gadgets-you-never-knew-leonardo-da-vinci-invented

Forse non tutti sanno che il genio toscano ha anche contribuito notevolmente allo sviluppo delle scienze culinarie.

 

La invenzioni, gli scritti e le opere di Leonardo da Vinci hanno attraversato i secoli e le discipline. Accanto a capolavori assoluti dell'arte, quali la Vergine delle Rocce o La Gioconda (oggi conservati al Louvre), Leonardo fu anche scrittore, filosofo, scienziato e ingegnere.

Proprio in questa ultima disciplina, al toscano Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, si attribuiscono temibili macchine da guerra, complessi sistemi di irrigazione e una lunga serie di prototipi mai realizzati: la bicicletta, il sottomarino e lo scafandro da sommozzatore, tra le altre.

Per non parlare dell'ossessione per il volo dell'uomo attraverso delle macchine, sulla quale lavorò tutta la sua vita senza successo. Ci giungono numerosi schizzi per la costruzione di 'macchine volanti' quali deltaplani, paracaduti, un'automobile a molla e persino la “vite aerea”, considerata dagli studiosi come l'antenato del moderno elicottero. 

Ma la mente di Leonardo non si fermava alle "grandi" invenzioni. Sfogliando il Codice Atlantico, la più ampia raccolta di disegni e scritti di Leonardo da Vinci, si trovano anche oggetti per la vita di tutti i giorni e di particolare importanza in cucina, altra sua grande passione.

Ecco le cinque invenzioni di Leonardo in cucina che continuiamo ad utilizzare ancora oggi:

 

Il coperchio

Sembrerebbe spontaneo pensare che l'uso del coperchio sia contemporaneo all'introduzione delle pentole in cucina, ma non è così. Come la storica dell'arte Lavinia Palmas ha raccontato a SBS Italian "prima dell'uso del coperchio si utilizzavano teli di lino, ma questi teli potevano alterare il sapore dei cibi cotti all'interno della pentola". Per questo Leonardo ideò un coperchio, che fosse indistruttibile e che rispettasse il sapore degli ingredienti utilizzati.

Il girarrosto

Tra gli appunti rinvenuti nel Codice Atlantico, conservato a Milano nella Biblioteca Ambrosiana, si trova anche lo schizzo per un curioso girarrosto meccanico dotato di eliche rotanti che giravano con il calore della fiamma.

Il frullatore

Il prototipo del moderno frullatore, secondo il suo primo ideatore, doveva essere azionato manualmente con una manovella. Anche gli schizzi dell'antenato del frullatore si trovano tra le carte di Leonardo, ma il progetto non venne mai realizzato a causa di alcune inesattezze di calcolo. Il progetto riportava delle dimensioni talmente grandi da essere stato scambiato da diversi studiosi per una pericolosa macchina da guerra.

Il cavatappi

Forse non tutti sanno che Leonardo fu proprietario di una vigna a Milano, regalatagli da uno dei suoi protettori, Ludovico il Moro, nel 1499. Amante del vino e grande conoscitore della viticoltura, Leonardo disegnò anche il prototipo del cavatappi. Non solo, essendo mancino nel suo schizzo si nota un'impugnatura che lo poteva rendere facilmente utilizzabile anche con la mano sinistra. 

Il macinapepe

Esperto di botanica, Leonardo utilizzava in cucina erbe e spezie non diffuse all'epoca come la curcuma, l’aloe, lo zafferano, i fiori di papavero e l’olio di lino. Ovviamente non potevano mancare sale e pepe, secondo alcuni il macinapepe di Leonardo gli venne ispirato dall'architettura del faro di La Spezia. (see photo below)

Purtroppo un'altra invenzione di Leonardo in cucina non ebbe altrettanto successo: non rimane più traccia nelle nostre cucine di una macchina "affetta uova a vento". Ma chissà che non sia destinata ad essere recuperata dai posteri.

image lightphotos.net

The Last Supper 

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper may be the most famous dinner party of all time, yet for all its fame and familiarity, scant notice has ever been taken of the food that is set before Christ and his disciples.

 

Only after the fresco was cleaned in 1997 has it been possible to see what for centuries had been obscured beneath the accretions of overpaint, varnish, and grime. The meal being consumed turns out to be not bread or pascal lamb as once thought, but grilled eel garnished with orange slices.

 

Among the thousands of pages of notes that Leonardo made over the course of his lifetime are a dozen grocery receipts that call for "peppered bread, eels, and apricots" among other things. The Last Supper indicates  Leonardo's own dining habits as well to a recipe given in the most influential cookbook of the period, Platina's On Right Pleasure and Good Health (1470). That Leonardo owned a copy of this book and even expressed admiration for its author...

The Renaissance Banquet

Cristoforo Di Messisbugo and Protestant Banquets

These are the sources for the wonderful and interesting recipes if you would like to unleash your inner renaissance master cook like I did !

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristoforo_di_Messisbugo

https://iiclosangeles.esteri.it/iic_losangeles/en/gli_eventi/calendario/cristoforo-di-messisbugo-banchetti-ariosteschi-e-protestanti.html

 

Luigi Ballerini, noted translator and food historian, and Diane Ghirardo, distinguished architecture historian, will speak on the book Banquets, Recipes, and General Utensils for the Kitchen and the Table, by Cristoforo di Messisbugo (late 1400s -1548). Published posthumously in Ferrara in 1549, the book is currently being translated into English, and will form part of the collection of the esteemed Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library, directed by Ballerini and Massimo Ciavolella, Chair of UCLA’s Italian Department.

 

The book is presented in three parts: an introduction, Memoriale per fare un apparecchio generale; a catalog of ten dinners, three light meals and a small banquet, described in all their phases with an accompanying list of beverages; and a collection of 315 recipes. It is a veritable treatise on mannerisms and a gold mine of information on food, including occasional elaborate and spectacular preparations, which quite rightly were reserved for court banquets. The author suggests dishes that were considered haute cuisine by his contemporaries, revises and creates recipes, refines popular dishes, and adapts foreign and exotic recipes to local products. In addition to taste, this gentleman of the court is concerned with sights and sounds and so weaves pleasing intervals of dance, music, or theater into his banquets.

Cheesy Rice or Spelt

Translation of a 16th century Italian Recipe.

From Christoforo di Messisbugo, Banchetti composizioni di vivande e apparecchio generale (Lucio Spineda, Venice, 1610)

p77v A fare riso, o farro, con torli di vuoa, e formaggio per piatti dieci. (To make rice, or spelt, with egg yolks, and cheese for ten platings.)

Take one pound of spelt, or rice, which is well husked, and washed, and when it is a good white, then take it to boil in a fatty broth, and when it is almost boiled, take two pounds of good hard grated cheese, and ten egg yolks1, and mix these eggs with [the] cheese, and throw2 [it] in the rice with a quarter of pepper, a little saffron, mixing all this well together with the spoon constantly, at the end when it will be finished cooking, and when it will be served, put over it six ounces of sugar, and put with this half an ounce of cinnamon, not forgetting to do this, and then moreover do without.

1. I really like that Messisbugo uses the term "torli". Not only can it be an egg yolk, but it's also a spinning top for children. Rosselli by comparison is really a bit boring, simply talking about the red of an egg.

2. The verb "gettare" is actually also translatable as "to hurl" or "to fling", but I don't really think that would be advisable in the kitchen.

Simple Green Frittata

Translation of a 16th century Italian Recipe.

From Christoforo di Messisbugo, Banchetti composizioni di vivande e apparecchio generale (Lucio Spineda, Venice, 1610)

p110v Frittada semplice verde, piena, e rognosa.1 (Filling simple green frittata.)

Take ten eggs, which will be as your normal ones, and beat them well, with a little salt, and when they are well beaten, put in them a little water, then have the pan with six ounces of fresh butter, and it will be spoilt, throwing in the eggs, and cook your frittata, which will be as soft as you would, then put over it ground cinnamon, as it would be served. And if you would have it green, you will put in it mint, and parsley, and other herbs, oil in which they are ground very finely, with knives, following the above rule to cook as the one above is cooked. And if you would fill it you put in fatty grated cheese, or fresh cheese2, and raisins within, and pine nuts, and onions cut small, and fresh fennel, and when one thing, when the other, and if you would make collops and eggs3, follow the first rule, adding in finely sliced prosciutto, or three quarters of an ounce of sausage, following the rule to cook as with the other, and over all of them convey much ground cinnamon.

1 Florio describes a "rognosa frittata" as being "a kind of tanzie or collops and egges fried together".

2 Messisbugo mentions "puina", which Florio translates as "a kinde of fresh-cheese and creame".

3 The phrase is "e volendola rognosa" - the "frittata" is omitted, but it makes more sense to me to translate as I have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meat paste in a Pot

Translation of a 16th century Italian Recipe.

From Christoforo di Messisbugo, Banchetti composizioni di vivande e apparecchio generale (Lucio Spineda, Venice, 1610)

p56r Pastello di carne in potto. (Meat paste in a pot.)

Take three pounds of flesh of veal, and six pounds of pulp, and from a good gruel, and then crush it with a knife, until it will be very small, and put it in an earthen pot, with half a pound of fat from a steer, and a drinking glass of verjuice, and half a pound of whole raisins, and a pound of honey, and half an ounce of pepper, and half an ounce of cinnamon, then cover [it], and place it over the brazier to boil slowly, and when it looks to you like it is cooked, take eight egg yolks beaten with verjuice, and a little fatty broth, and throw them in, and leave it to finish until you would serve it, and in this manner you can also make it with young hens, or with doves/pigeons in quarters.

The recipes of Cristoforo di Messisbugo

Saffron in Montalcino - Middle ages - Renaissance and Now!

SAFFRON RISOTTO

4 servings

Ingredients 
320 g carnaroli rice, 120 g butter,  2 tsp saffron (in pistils) or two saffron sachet ( gr 0,250 ) , 100 g Parmigiano cheese, 1 little onion, 50 g white wine, salt, 2 lt vegetable stock or broth

 If you decide to use the pistils, put in  a glass of water 1 hr in advance.
Bring stock to a low simmer in a medium pot.
Cut the onion thin. In a medium saucepan sautée the onion with 50 gr of butter till translucent ( about 2 or 3 minutes) add  rice, toast for 2 minutes  and pour the wine. Once it is evaporated, add 2 ladles of stock to rice, simmer, stirring, until rice has absorbed most of stock. Continue adding stock, allowing rice to absorb it before adding the next ladleful. Five minutes before the end add the second sachet or the remaining water with pistils. Cook until rice is al dente and mixture is a little loose, about 16/18 minutes depending on rice.  Remove from the heat, add the remaining butter and grated parmesan, stir till the ingredients are well combined. Cover and let it sit 2 minutes. Serve.

Lunch with Raffaella · Loc. Villa Due Porte, 248/A · Montalcino, si 53024 · Italy

recipe courtesy of Raffaella who kindly conducted our private class in our private villa on Stella's vineyard -Montalcino, 2017!

”Since ancient times in Montalcino there were news about saffron cultivation, croco sativus. Giovanni Botti, judge and public notary in Florence, in 1593 went to Montalcino on behalf of the Sacred College and the Nunzio Apostolico Mario Giorgi, to provide informations to the Concistorial Congregation, about our economy. Convenes 10 witnesses, from Montalcino, asking them 12 questions for everyone. All of them responded that local economy, agriculture and handcraft were flourishing. I mention in particular the response of Giacomo Angelini who declares “… In the countryside close to S. Antimo is growing saffron” (This document was found in the secret archives of the Vatican). Giorgio Giorgetti in his work “Crete Senesi in the modern age – studies and research of rural history, Citta di Castello 1983” wriote: “When there are economic conditions – in Montalcino – we can grow a very high marketed plant which is saffron.”

The testimony of the naturalist Pier Andrea Mattioli in 1500 “… in Tuscany and around Siena has a great market, also for industrial and medical purposes. It is actually a plant that typically grown in clay and dry grounds.”

 

MIDDLE AGES

Saffron has been grown in Val d’Orcia since the Middle Ages and  it was exported mainly to Germany. In 1857, during the Tuscan agrarian exhibition Clemente Santi – one of the fathers of the Brunello di Montalcino – presented the “Saffron from Montalcino’s soil” for whose virtues and qualities deserved the prize in the exhibition. “Saffron of Mr. Santi from Montalcino is estimated for the smell and richness of coloring matter … ” .

At the end of the last century the production was almost stopped and only in recent years has been rediscovered.

Some wonderful links for you to cut and paste into your browser! Enjoy!

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