Maestro Martino of Como has been called the first celebrity chef, and his extraordinary treatise on Renaissance cookery, The Art of Cooking, is the first known culinary guide to specify ingredients, cooking times and techniques, utensils, and amounts. This vibrant document is also essential to understanding the forms of conviviality developed in Central Italy during the Renaissance, as well as their sociopolitical implications. In addition to the original text, this first complete English translation of the work includes a historical essay by Luigi Ballerini and fifty modernized recipes by acclaimed Italian chef Stefania Barzini.
The Art of Cooking, unlike the culinary manuals of the time, is a true gastronomic lexicon, surprisingly like a modern cookbook in identifying the quantity and kinds of ingredients in each dish, the proper procedure for cooking them, and the time required, as well as including many of the secrets of a culinary expert. In his lively introduction, Luigi Ballerini places Maestro Martino in the complicated context of his time and place and guides the reader through the complexities of Italian and papal politics. Stefania Barzini's modernized recipes that follow the text bring the tastes of the original dishes into line with modern tastes. Her knowledgeable explanations of how she has adapted the recipes to the contemporary palate are models of their kind and will inspire readers to recreate these classic dishes in their own kitchens. Jeremy Parzen's translation is the first to gather the entire corpus of Martino's legacy.