Tasting Life Twice

Author Crystal King muses on life, history, writing and food.

Tortellini with Peas

Tortellini with Peas

One of my favorite things about writing THE CHEF'S SECRET was trying my hand at some of Bartolomeo Scappi's recipes. L’Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi includes some of the first recipes resembling what we know as pasta today, including stuffed pasta such as tortellini and tortelli. It was a fun challenge trying to figure out how to make this recipe, from Book II.252 of L’Opera, work. The dough, which is made with with sugar and rosewater but no oil, is a bit softer and more pliable than what is common today. The spices lend themselves well to the peas, however, and this makes a perfect spring dish. But if you are like me, and love peas any time of the year, by all means, go with the frozen peas. It's still a delightful and surprising dish!

Secret Code Writing in the Renaissance

Secret Code Writing in the Renaissance

Early on when writing The Chef's Secret, I knew that I had two stories to tell, that of Bartolomeo Scappi in the past, and that of his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni, in the present. Giovanni came into possession of journals and letters which told him the big secrets of his uncle's past. 

Now On YouTube!

Now On YouTube!

In addition to writing novels, I also work as a social media professor for a marketing technology company, HubSpot. My entire site is built on HubSpot, actually, and I manage my mailing list and social media through the platform (although, note that for the average author it probably isn't the right choice price-wise, as it's meant for businesses...it's a lucky perk of being an employee). 

Pumpkin Tourte ~ A Delicious Renaissance Cheesecake Pie Recipe

Pumpkin Tourte ~ A Delicious Renaissance Cheesecake Pie Recipe

It's #NationalPieDay!! So of course I had to share one of my favorite Renaissance recipes, one for a pumpkin tourte. 

Pumpkin pie in the Renaissance? I hear you say. Isn't that a food from North America? Why yes, but let me explain. In renowned chef  Bartolomeo Scappi's 1570 cookbook, he describes a pie which includes a recipe for a gourd that translates as the word "pumpkin." Now, the word for "pumpkin" has been used on a variety of gourds throughout the centuries, dating back to ancient times. It's possible that the pie he describes was actually a squash pie, but with the influx of foods from the new world (Scappi also includes some of the first European recipes for turkey in his book), I like to think that perhaps the pumpkin that we know and love today might have been what Scappi was using when he created this recipe. 

Scappi's Braised Beef - An Interpretation of a Renaissance Recipe

Scappi's Braised Beef - An Interpretation of a Renaissance Recipe

Renaissance chef (and character in my second novel), Bartolomeo Scappi, wrote a cookbook that was released in 1570 and was one of the most reprinted cookbooks over the next two hundred years. One of the most wonderful things about his cookbook, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, is that it is still very accessible today. There are exceptions, for example, modern audiences would not be interested in some of the meats (hedgehog or blackbird anyone?), and many of the items are not readily available or, like his feathered peacock, are too elaborate too make.

Fortunately, many of his recipes are are still pretty easy to figure out. Like this one for braised beef:

Crystal King's July Ponderings, Tastings, Travels, Readings and General Updates

Crystal King's July Ponderings, Tastings, Travels, Readings and General Updates

It's the sticky part of July, nearly the dog days of summer. My mind has been jam-packed with planning for both the fall, and the winter launch of my next novel, THE CHEF'S SECRET. In the midst of that, I've had my mind in a swirl with a variety of other projects, books and ideas--many of which I think might be of interest to my readers and potential readers, so let's unpack it all:

Beauty and Makeup in Ancient Rome

Beauty and Makeup in Ancient Rome

Women have been using makeup for thousands of years and beauty in Ancient Rome was just as important as it is today. Just as we do, they even had books that helped women stay on top of beauty trends. Many of you might be familiar with the poet Ovid's Metamorphoses and Amores but I would bet you've not heard of his Medicamina Faciei Femineae or Women’s Facial Cosmetics, sometimes seen as The Art of Beauty. The fragment we have from this book (see the link above) is fascinating, offering up three and a half beauty tips for Roman women. The first is a lengthy and messy recipe on how to make your skin whiter. The second recipe on getting rid of pimples would, as we know now, kill you slowly over time. I imagine that many women paid such a high price to be beautiful: