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The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L'arte et prudenza d'un maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library) Hardcover – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


‘Terence Scully has done a beautiful job preparing this book. This is the first translation into English; it is highly readable, and many fans of cooking will enjoy sifting through its voluminous entries … With a number of books on the history of cuisine to his credit, Terence Scully … is, beyond question, a culinary expert.’ (Robert Applebaum Times Higher Education Book of the Week, April 2009)

‘Scully’s volume makes a monumental contribution to the burgeoning field of Renaissance and early modern food studies and … has much to contribute to contemporary discussions of material and cultural history.’ (Deborah L. Krohn Renaissance Quarterly)

‘[The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi] provides information on hundreds of topics ranging from how to prepare frog’s legs for popes to the preparation of pickled tuna and a potion of dried figs, jujubes, currants, and liquorice for the sick. The detailed annotation makes this a valuable source of factual information that can illumine the whole world of late medieval and Renaissance cookery.’ (Medium Aerum)

About the Author

Terence Scully is a professor emeritus in the Department of Languages and Literatures at Wilfrid Laurier University.


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Product Details

  • Series: Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802096247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802096241
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,260,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. Louise Smithson on January 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Praises: Rarely is a cookbook translation of this size made available by the publisher at such a reasonable price. If you are recreating feasts for the Society of Creative Anachronism or just have an interest in Italian food this is the book for you. Over 1000 detailed recipes translated into English for the first time. With more variations within each recipe bringing the total to probably over 2000 variations. How could you not buy this book? Given the price including shipping that works out for a mere 4c a recipe.
Problems: Scully apparently did not use Zupko (Italian Weights and Measures) to standardize the translation of his measurements. The Italian pound in Rome at the time was 12oz not 16oz as stated. Many of the liquid measurements are also in error.
There are a few major and minor translation issues for example: limonecello - little lemons, translated as limes, cipollini - little onions/shallots, translated as green onions; which could affect the redaction of these recipes, use caution and if it doesn't seem quite right check the translation in the online Florio at Greg Lindahls website.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gaelaxy on April 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bartolomeo Scappi rose to the highest levels of fame by serving as head chef to two Popes during the Renaissance. The Popes and the Cardinals that he served over the years appreciated his talent with food and kitchen management. His book was a best seller in its own time with numerous reprints. His fame and honor were well-earned because he always strove to find the best way to serve each cut of meat or kind of vegetable to bring out its most succulent properties.

I bought this book in pursuit of information on Medieval and Renaissance cooking so I could serve more authentic food for SCA feasts. The recipes were so clearly translated by Terrance Scully that I was able to recreate many of them with ease. Unlike so many other historical cookbook authors, Scappi gives measurements for the ingredients and the translator has presented them in ounces, pounds and litres to make them very easy to understand. Every recipe I have made from this book has been outstanding.

Its rare to find a new cuisine that is so delicious. This new cuisine is really an old one based on the foods abundently available in Rome in the 16th century. This is gourmet Italian food before pesto, tomatoes, coffee, or a heavy use of garlic, pasta, or oregano. Instead Scappi uses fresh, flavorful ingredients. Instead of tomato sauce he uses a light sauce made from orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, and spices to flavor cooked meats and egg dishes. He also uses verjuice made from sour grapes and must which is made from the sweeter grapes to flavor many dishes. Nearly everything is sprinkled with a little sugar to balance the acidic juices thus creating mouthwatering flavors that pop in your mouth and leave you wanting more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Katharine E. Quinn on May 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the best additions to my research library ever! Part cookbook and part memoir, this is a collection of recipes and reminiscences by master chef Bartolomeo Scappi, personal cook to two Renaissance popes. The recipes are interesting enough in themselves, and well worth trying out (the elderflower fritters - yum) but the real fascination comes when Scappi talks more personally. His pride in his work and his love of good food shine through every word with transparent sincerity - I would have loved to hang around this man's kitchen, begging for pearls of wisdom and bites of whatever he had on the stove.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Strife of Love in a Dream VINE VOICE on October 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This exhaustive work is surely going to become a major classic in the field of food history. Author Terence Scully has produced a translation of such scope and such thoroughness that it's hard to imagine anything else happening.

Within its hundreds of pages, readers will find a decent translation of a cookbook written in the heyday of Renaissance Rome by a chef who worked with some of the biggest names of the era. Scappi was writing his cookbook both as a manifesto of what constituted fine eating in his day, but also as an advice book (a popular genre at the time) to show what one should cook for certain occasions and how. Breaking his book down into sections, Scappi discusses at length pastry, meat and fish dishes, Lenten dishes (and adapting non-Lent recipes), desserts, and much more. One entire section deals with the feeding of the sick and weak; such recipes are of great interest to me so I appreciated such exhaustive treatment. Scappi and by extension Scully also includes dozens of engraved B/W illustrations of both how a kitchen should be set up at home and during travel and the tools that it should contain in either circumstance. The book also provides a number of sample menus, one of which is a proposed feast for the clergymen selecting a new Pope. He discusses informal and formal meals and how to arrange outdoor feasts. He covers the various courses that either type of meal should involve, what they're called, and how guests should behave during them. He even talks about what sort of servants a household should have and what their roles and responsibilities should be regarding meals and serving.

This is Italian cooking in its flowering infancy. Make no mistake about it--within these many pages lurks a food philosophy and an anthropological study.
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