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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) Paperback – January 22, 2011
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‘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
- Item Weight : 2.34 pounds
- Paperback : 800 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781442611481
- ISBN-13 : 978-1442611481
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
- Publisher : University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division; 1st edition (January 22, 2011)
- ASIN : 1442611480
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #126,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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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. Scappi covers every single foodstuff his society knew and cooking techniques from all over Europe and beyond. He briefly discusses the exotic ingredients coming out of the New World, and more extensively covers alchemical-sounding preparations meant to cure illnesses and balance humors. Probably the biggest surprise about this book is its timelessness. Scappi insists on cleanliness and fresh ingredients, and his food isn't at all unfamiliar. Omit the sugar and rosewater he calls for in so many preparations (including fish pies) and add in modern gadgetry, and I bet any non-chain Italian restaurant owner could use this as a stand-alone reference for every aspect of operation. I am looking forward to resurrecting many of Scappi's recipes. Some of them (like an exquisite-sounding ricotta-and-greens pie) sound so delicious that it's sad to think they ever fell out of popularity.
On the usefulness front, Scully thoughtfully provides a huge index as well as numerous appendices regarding ingredients and terminology. There are even brief biographies of the important people that pepper the book and Scappi's eyewitness account of Paul III's funeral and surrounding events. Scully also includes a list of other cookbooks produced around that time.
This is not a perfect book, alas. I've heard that some of Scully's translations sound a bit off, but those cases seem like they announce themselves pretty well. I also feel disappointed that Scully did not provide translations for the menus themselves--they are almost all given in Italian, so those who wish to know what these dishes actually were will need to do a bit of detective work. Nor are recipes given in modern formats, with Imperial measurements and precise instructions, so recreating them will require a bit of guesswork and experimentation. That doesn't stop this book from being one I consider essential. Overall Scappi's directions seem easy enough to follow for those who wish to recreate his recipes for SCA/re-enactment feasts. Anybody who wishes to learn more about the eating habits of the upper class of Renaissance Rome would do well to study this book, but even more so, it should be in the library of anybody who is interested in food history.
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. Unlike modern Italian that is dominated by garlic and onions he uses cinnamon, ginger, and pepper in exciting ways with wine and meat broth combined with dried and fresh fruit.
The index was written more for scholars than cooks and the translator has left whole sections of menus un-translated which was very frustrating for me since I wanted to know what recipes were served together. In the introduction Scully explains that the original book included a whole year of menus and was probably composed from Scappi's own ledgers.
The book also includes engravings showing the arangement of the rooms and courtyards of the Papal kitchens as well as illustrations of the numerous kitchen tools used by the cooks. They are so clear that I can use them to have historial tools made for my own use.