Friday, June 25, 2021

The Pope's Celebrity Chef

An image from Scappi's cookbook of a rotisserie deviceAs we head into summer, we are beginning to dream about hot dogs, corn on the cob, and other seasonal favorites. Although we personally are satisfied with our own backyard cooking arrangements, this 16th-century cooking contraption might potentially breed serious grill envy among some outdoor barbecue enthusiasts.⁠

This mechanical marvel is one of many kitchen gadgets pictured in the 1596 edition of Bartolomeo Scappi's Opera dell'Arte del Cucinare. Scappi was the first true international celebrity chef, a la Julia Childs or Anthony Bourdain. He cooked for several popes and numerous bishops, but he truly rose to fame in 1570 when his cookbook with over a thousand Renaissance recipes was published to great acclaim. One of his pronouncements that was likely very well received by his local audience was that Parmesan is the greatest of all cheeses.

We recently acquired this volume for use in the classroom at the request of two of our Italian Department faculty members; we're so excited at the prospect of having students back on site, hopefully sooner rather than later!⁠ To take a look at some of the other great images in this book, come to Rauner and ask for Rare TX711 .S283 1596.

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