5 October 2006 -
7 January 2007

At Home in Renaissance Italy

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Knife, Fork and Spoon Enlarge image of Knife, Fork and Spoon

Knife, fork and spoon
16th century, Venice
Silver and rock crystal
Museo Correr, Musei Civici Veneziani, Venice


While cookery books had been available for centuries in manuscript form, printed books of recipes, often containing woodcut illustrations, were a new development in this period. They made advice on cookery available to a wider audience than ever before. During the Renaissance it was common for meals to have four courses, which could consist of one entrée, two meat courses and one course of fruit or cheese. Meat was expensive and eaten regularly only by the wealthy. Short pasta, which would be boiled, became increasingly popular during the sixteenth century and soon dominated the Italian diet. Here we have translated recipes from two popular Renaissance cookery books, the humanist's Bartolomeo Platina's 'On right pleasure and good health' (1475) and the food advisor of the Ferrarese court Cristoforo Messisbugo's 'Banquets' (1549).


Barolomeo Platina's 'On right pleasure and good health'.
Cristoforo Messisbugo's 'Banquets'.