Friday, 20 December 2019

PGC2019: Meisterin Christian's Festa de Natale, Late 16th C Italian feast

Not just an item of food or drink your persona may have grown, prepared, consumed, or known of, Meistern Christian has entered a whole feast in the category "Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

Final course on the sideboard
Photo by Isabel Maria
Persona period inspiration and use:

A friend wanted to host a Christmas event with a meal (Southron Gaard, Festa de Natale, December 2018).  He wanted a menu suitable for his Lady’s persona, i.e. late 1570’s Italian noblewoman.  I chose to follow Scappi, a chef to various cardinals and pope’s, whose Opera dell'arte del cucinare was published in 1570.

I used Scappi’s recipes and menus to construct a feasibly accurate light summer celebration meal for Italy in the 1570’s.

Design, Materials and Construction:

I reviewed all the translated menus from Scappi I could find, and established the appropriate number of courses and dishes for a light feast.  I reviewed the dishes on those menus, and arranged them as to the appropriate course in which they should appear (certain dishes appear only in certain courses).  From those lists I selected a long list of the dishes I preferred.  Christmas in Italy is obviously not in summer, so some flexibility was necessary in selecting recipes from both the summer and December menus.

Roast pork tenderloin presented
before being carved by Sir Tycho
Photo by Isabel Maria
I then narrowed down the long list of recipes balancing an authentic light Scappi summer menu with the modern constraints / considerations of the event: a menu of light dishes and salads appropriate for a warm summer evening, a balanced menu (for modern tastes), recipes I liked, available seasonal produce, preparation time and cooking facilities, recipes with a nod to Christmas (period or modern Christmas) and keeping a low ticket price in mind.

Here is the menu from the feast:

Primo servitio di credenza (First service from the sideboard):

  • Uva fresca di piu sorte (Fresh grapes of various sorts)
  • Formaggio (Cheese)
  • Olive di piu sorte (Olives of various sorts)
  • Insalata di citrioli et cipollette (Cucumber and onion salad)
  • Insalate di cedro tagliate in fettoline, servite con zuccaro, sale & acqua rosa (Orange salad with sugar, salt, and rosewater)
  • Prosciutto cotto in vino, tagliata, servitto freddo (Ham cooked in red wine, with a dressing of capers, currants, sugar, vinegar)
  • Amaretti (Almond cookies)
  • Pane con buttiro (Bread butter)

Primo et ultimo servito di cucina (First and last service from the kitchen)

  • Polli arrostite (Roast chicken)
  • Il lomboletto di porco domstico in piu modi (Roast pork tenderloin)
  • Mostardo amabile (Sweet mustard)
  • Sapore vino di melangranate (Pomegranate wine sauce)
  • Minestra di tagliatelle (A thick soup of Tagliatelle)
  • Bolognese tourte ((for vegetarians) Cheese and chard tart)
  • Cuocere Broccoli asciutti et cauli (Broccoli and cauliflower with sour orange juice, oil and garlic)
  • Insalata di misto (Mixed salad)

Secondo et ultimo servitio di credenza (Second and last service from the sideboard):
A closer look at the final course
Photo by Isabel Maria
  • Mele et pere crudo di piu sorte (Raw pears and apples)
  • Formaggio (Cheese)
  • Grani di melegranate et Fragole (Pomegranate seeds and strawberries)
  • Mandole (Almonds)
  • Neve di latte(A dish of Snow)
  • Per fare pizza a un’altro modo (A dried fruit tart: pastry)
  • Ciambelle (Italian cookies)
  • Gelo di cotogne (Quince paste)

Here is a link to an article in FTT with some recipes from the event:

Final course from the sideboard. Photo by Isabel Maria del Aguila


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, University of Toronto Press, 2011, Terence Scully.

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