This new novel also has a cook at its center, but this time it's Bartolomeo Scappi, who was the celebrity chef of the Renaissance and the man who penned one of the most influential cookbooks of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Here is a fun mish-mash of some of the things I've learned:
- Alessandro Farnese, who was Pope Paul III, was 67 when he became Pope. One of his first acts was to appoint his two grandsons, age 14 and 16, as cardinals and to make his son commander-in-chief of the Papal armies. Before he took the papacy, the wags of Rome called him 'Cardinal Pettycoat' because he had a handsome mistress and four children. From Ten Popes that Shook the World.
- The government of Milan changed hands 11 times between 1494 and 1530.
- In 1520 the papal court had 2000 people on its payroll. From Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance.
- News from Rome took three days to reach Florence or Naples. Four from Venice, 10 from Lyon and 26 from Madrid. Also from the Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance.
- The average fare to reach the Americas (South America in the 16th century) was 1-2 months worth of salary of a skilled craftsman, far beyond the average wage of the poor. Also from the Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance.
- With the success of the printing press, book collecting became a craze with some individuals collecting thousands of volumes. I'm particularly looking forward to reading Two Renaissance Book Hunters: The Letters of Poggius Bracciolini to Nicolaus De Niccolis.
- And in the event you wanted to know how to cook roe deer's eggs, Scappi gives us a recipe:
A roe deer’s eggs can similarly be cooked immediately after the animal is killed; those eggs look like little acorns that are attached to the deer’s womb, not more than eight in number and are naturally ring-shaped like a goat kid’s kidney; they are removed at the time the deer is pregnant or begins to become pregnant. The liver of that animal does not have any gall. An unborn roebuck should be cooked just as soon as it is removed from the body, having first been skinned in hot water.
More to come as I continue my research. I can't wait till it's cooler and we can start testing recipes. And no, roebuck won't be on my menu!
Highlighted art is by Giovanni Bellini and Titian, The Feast of the Gods, 1514/1529, oil on canvas, overall: 170.2 x 188 cm (67 x 74 in.) framed: 203.8 x 218.4 x 7.6 cm (80 1/4 x 86 x 3 in.), Widener Collection