Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book (California Studies in Food and Culture)
Como, Maestro Martino Of
University of California Press
Published: December 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In his informative, if ponderous, introduction, Ballerini offers a window into the life of 15th-century culinary whiz Maestro Martino, who's credited by most scholars to be the father of modern Italian cookery. As a chef to one
of Milan's most important families, Martino had the most far-reaching influence of any chef of his day. Much of what we know about Martino comes from the writings of his friend Platina, who recorded many of Martino's greatest recipes and culinary advice
in a book called The Art of Cooking. Those recipes-and others culled from obscure Martino-Platina texts-are faithfully reproduced in this highly entertaining, if sometimes uneven, volume. Only the most die-hard culinary enthusiasts may attempt Martino's
Eel Torte or his Lenten Caviar Pottage, and recipes like Flying Pie, which incorporates live birds that fly away when the cover is removed, are, as Martino notes, just "for amusement." But much of the advice in chapter six, "How to Cook Eggs in Every
Way," remains salient today. In addition, there are dozens of recipes that even novice chefs could attempt, such as the Roman-Style Macaroni with fresh-grated pecorino romano and the fennel-rich Fried Squash. Whether attempted at home or not, these
recipes offer readers something far more compelling than practicality: a fascinating glimpse into a long-departed world where Papal Torte (a cheesy dish containing capon and "fatty, well-cooked veal teat") was served for breakfast and chefs for the upper
classes needed to know not only how to cook tasty meals, but also the fine art of flamboyant presentation (i.e., "How to Dress a Peacock with All Its Feathers, so That When Cooked, It Appears to Be Alive and Spews Fire from Its Beak").
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Maestro Martino of Como has been called the first celebrity chef, and his extraordinary treatise on Renaissance cookery, The Art of Cooking,
is the first known culinary guide to specify ingredients, cooking times and techniques, utensils, and amounts. This vibrant document is also essential to understanding the forms of conviviality developed in Central Italy during the Renaissance, as well
as their sociopolitical implications. In addition to the original text, this first complete English translation of the work includes a historical essay by Luigi Ballerini and fifty modernized recipes by acclaimed Italian chef Stefania Barzini. The Art of
Cooking, unlike the culinary manuals of the time, is a true gastronomic lexicon, surprisingly like a modern cookbook in identifying the quantity and kinds of ingredients in each dish, the proper procedure for cooking them, and the time required, as well
as including many of the secrets of a culinary expert. In his lively introduction, Luigi Ballerini places Maestro Martino in the complicated context of his time and place and guides the reader through the complexities of Italian and papal politics.
Stefania Barzini's modernized recipes that follow the text bring the tastes of the original dishes into line with modern tastes. Her knowledgeable explanations of how she has adapted the recipes to the contemporary palate are models of their kind and
will inspire readers to recreate these classic dishes in their own kitchens. Jeremy Parzen's translation is the first to gather the entire corpus of Martino's legacy. Illustrations: 1 b/w photograph
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