Il piacere onesto e la buona salute. De honesta voluptate et valetudine.

Culinaria - Letteratura - Italia - Secolo XV

Il piacere onesto e la buona salute. De honesta voluptate et valetudine. The complete title is "De natura rerum or de obsoniis or de honesta volupate, et de tuenda valetudine", as suggested by a biographical note added in 1841 to the original copy kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Cividale del Friuli. Since it was published in 1480 it is a real incunabulum, with ancient types and graphics. Some of the pages were written by a skilled copyist with mediaeval types and abbreviations in black and red ink and were inserted in the book as flyleaves. "De honesta voluptate" is made up of ten books: the first five describe the nature of food, the others are recipes books. Special attention must be paid to the index of "capitula" (chapters): there is a never-ending list of subjects going from the suggestions for the choice of the right place to live in to advices about "de exercitatione corporis" (exercises for the body), "de cena" (dinner), "de ioco et ludo" (games and fun), "de somno" (sleep) and "de exercitatione post somnu" (exercise after sleep). After the preparation of the table and the choice of the cook, there are suggestions as to what should be the first dish. The second chapter in particular, opens with an in-depth description of fruits (apples, pears, quinces, cherries) followed by the description of other natural products such as butter, oil, vinegar, honey and milk. In the third chapter the author skilfully describes the spices used in the kitchen. The attached pages, regarding "pistacia" (pistachio), "aromata" (aromatic herbs), roots of cinnamon and ginger, saffron, nutmeg, mint and rue show that Bartolomeo Sacchi has perfect knowledge of the subject from a medical and historical point of view and he proposes traditional usages and invaluable cooking suggestions. Even though the information about food and cookery is taken from a previous cookery book by Mastro Martino da Como (De arte coquinaria), Sacchi’s work is still extremely accurate and modern. The fourth chapter deals mostly with different kinds of "conditura" (flavouring); the fifth to the description and preparation of game and farmyard animals, such as peacocks, turtle-doves, hens, doves and partridges. In chapters 6 to 10 there are the recipes, from pastries to the preparation of choice dishes, to use a modern phrase. This is not a mediaeval work, on the contrary it is marked by its humanistic impulse and modern language.

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