Lighting firecrackers and grilling burgers has become the classic way to celebrate the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence, just 233 short years ago. Free at last from the tyranny of uncomfortable, dead-pan British humor, we clanged bells and marched down avenues in formations. The 4th of July has become the perfect excuse to start drinking a tad earlier than is usually acceptable, and to stir that dormant redneck cum patriot inside each and every one of us. Little matter that people first celebrated American independence on July 8, that the signing was actually finalized in August, or that the holiday didn’t become official until 1941.

But while your friends are chowing down on charred dogs you could be eating something more out of the ordinary. If roast suckling pig doesn’t suit your fancy, you can always make your own “good sausage with pork or other meat”. These are some of the tamer ideas you’ll find in our historical cookbook The Art of Cooking, which features recipes by Maestro Martino of Como, the original celebrity chef who made a name for himself in central Italy during the Renaissance.

Mister Maestro was one of the first to write a modern-style cookbook, meaning he was kind enough to include the quantities, ingredients and techniques for the culinary mortals. Contemporary food master Stefania Barzini reworked these creations for the modern kitchen by substituting an oven for the open fire or updating flavor combination to current tastes. Wouldn’t you rather serve “Gold of Pleasure sauce” with your asparagus, instead of the go-to drizzle of olive oil?

If you have a sweet tooth, take a stab at Martino of Como’s “Flying pie”, which calls for live birds to be trapped under the cover with the dessert and released when the dish is served to guests.

This Saturday, if you’re intent on blowing your buzzed buds out of the water, try serving up Martino’s “peacock with all of its feathers, so that when cooked, it appears to be alive and spews flames from its beak.” Even the hardiest Iron Chef contestant might have trouble stabbing the hapless bird in the head with a knife or slitting its throat. It’s really quite simple, counsels the Maestro, just do as you would with a baby goat.