Segreti del mondo medicinale, e curiosi da Pier Francesco Can, arabo pellegrino. Publicati per universale utilità. In due parti alfabetiche.
Recipes and Secrets
One of the few things we know about Pier Francesco Can, author of this very interesting booklet, is his nickname which appears in the title, "arabo pellegrino" ( wandering Arab) to suggest his origins or his keen interest for Arabic medicine. In the introduction, written for a "wise reade", the author talks about the origin of those secrets that were revealed to him during his peregrination around the world and were then collected and published in Milan in 1689. He adds the adjective "curious" to the title, to stress the amazement and sometimes the scepticism he feels when he talks about those secrets. The secrets are listed in alphabetical order for a practical reason, while an original "alphabet of queer words translated into Tuscan" is given to the reader for a better understanding of the language used by the author. Many of those queer words are of French origin, and others come from the language spoken in Central-Southern Italy. Looking at the list of secrets, we notice that water is the basic element in a large variety of preparations and a fundamental compound in some branches of medicine, such as gynaecology and urology ("water to alleviate all pains of a mother, ["], difficulty in urinating, ["], to make sand wet") and in general medicine ("water, ["], to cure ringworm and heal wounds, ["], balsam of many virtues") He mentions a wide range of cosmetic products that are most unlikely to be effective and were meant to treat a wide range of problems, like remedies for hair problems ("hair, to make it grow, ["], hair, to lengthen it , ["], to make it blonde, ["] , to avoid hair loss") and dental problems "to extract a broken tooth, ["], to whiten teeth, ["], mouth inflammation"). The author gives hints of strictly alchemical nature for the use of gold or other minerals ("to increase its production, [...], to make it softer") and delicious cooking tips ("to prepare pork mortadella, [...], to prepare liver mortadella"), astrological predictions and divinatory forecasts.