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Domenico Musci, Academic and Collector of Historical Menus

A Commemoration

Walter Benjamin describes a collector as someone who finds use in items that were cast aside, abandoned objects that have long since lost their original meaning. Domenico did not simply make old objects useful again, but accomplished so much more in his work. Domenico was able to create deeply profound webs of meanings with his objects of the past that replicated the real life they once carried within them. He could minutely piece together the histories behind them, the people whose lives they touched, the environment they were in, and the world that created them. And he did not stop at reviving their histories, but he reconstructed them in such a way that cast the light of their significance onto today and tomorrow, creating works of genius and art that yet follow their original meaning and artistic principles faithfully. He was a brilliant and poetic collector and creator.

To complete his work, it was necessary that Domenico connected these webs of relationships that composed his work of past objects with real-life friendships. His acquaintances were always ready to pass along knowledge, but they were also strong friendships not simply oriented on work. The ties of friendship began naturally from a common sharing of hospitality and of wisdom, growing into a genuine enjoyment of one other. For us, fellow collectors of menus and friends in gastronomy, his cultural approach gave and continues to give the inspiration to always dig deeper into the relationship between menus and their gastronomic histories. Domenico was the only one among us who, from his privileged post in Piedmont and the United States, was able to explain and reconstruct the underlying cultural food histories so well. Domenico had invaluable menus that detailed the cuisine of Piedmontese kings and nobles, of the Borghese and of the thousands of countrymen that lived in Piedmont’s green valleys. He understood what it took to bring about the festivals and parties of high society, only possible through the hard work of Italy’s peasants. He knew the precious value of a single meal for drafted men. All of this was apparent in his menus, which materialized in the many small but important pieces of information that he found, spread throughout the culture of Piedmont and, indeed, in all of Italy.

There are many testimonies of this passionate and impartial academic, from a series of recent articles in the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, and numerous tradeshows in Piedmont and other Italian regions such as the 2011 Artusi Festival in Forlimpopoli, to all the publications full of short stories often accompanied with menus that narrate the people, history, and geography of a place. The hard work of Domenico Musci will always be an inspiration to us. Those who did not have the honor to know what he accomplished in life are privileged to have this rich bibliography and his individual literary pieces and artistic creations that will always inspire those who follow in his footsteps. Domenico, like all great people, was unique and exceptional, and his friendship and willingness to give to others is a part of him that we still feel, a part that lives on through us when we remember him. This will remain a comfort to us in our loss of a great person and friend.

Maurizio Campiverdi
Franco Chiarini

Academic and collector of historical menus


Domenico Musci was born on September 28, 1942 in Turin, Italy, the same city where he both earned his degree in Accounting and followed courses in carpentry and fine furniture. After a life of pursuing a career in furniture and woodworking, Domenico left his commercial activities to dedicate himself to what had always been his true passions: art, gastronomy, and history. Painter, sculptor, passionate collector of menus, and an eager and friendly interpreter of the past, Domenico was a gastronomic expert with a colorful personality. He balanced hard work and expertise with a never-fading passion in all that he did. As a painter and sculptor, Musci participated in many important exhibitions, both public and private. An apprentice of artists Filippo Scroppo and Giacomo Soffiantino, Domenico loved to manipulate different materials, working with equal dexterity in paints, clay, metal, and wood. He was a tireless promoter of cultural events as a member in Pro loco of Turin Caselle, where he resided, and participated in both the monthly “Cose Nostre” and the “La Forgia” association. In 2005 he was elected as “Member of the Year.” For many years he contributed to Accademico della Cucina and was a founding member of “Associate Menus,” an international association that houses the world’s largest collection of historical menus. Domenico Musci tragically passed away on February 29, 2012 after two weeks of fighting an illness that he had previously overcome. He is survived by his wife Marinella and sons Davide and Giuseppe.

Bibliography of Domenico Musci

TIBONE Maria Luisa - MUSCI Domenico - CARDINO Lidia, Il conto sul vassoio: cabarets decorati e ricevute di ristoranti, alberghi e osterie tra Otto e Novecento: collezioni e curiosità intorno al 1902, La Morra (CN), Cantina comunale, mostra a cura di M. L. Tibone, D. Musci e L. Cardino, Torino, Omega, 1994.
MUSCI Domenico, Vecchi menu delle Valli di Lanzo e del Canavese, Torino, GC&R, 1997.
MUSCI Domenico, L’Italia a tavola attraverso i menu, Torino, Il Punto, 1999.
MUSCI Domenico e MUSCI Giuseppe, Delle vecchie insegne: da Torino alle Valli di Lanzo e Canavese, Borgone di Susa, Melli, 2002.
FONTANA Andrea, El salam ed turgia: insaccati del Piemonte tipici delle Valli di Lanzo e del basso Canavese. Appendice di Domenico e Marinella Musci: Ricettario, Ciriè, Garbolino, 2003.
MUSCI Domenico, 100 anni di menu… nelle Valli di Lanzo e Canavese con ricette d’epoca, Santhià, GS editrice, 2006.
MUSCI Domenico, Abbuffate reali: la storia d’Italia attraverso i menu di Casa Savoia, Torino, Ananke, 2007.
MUSCI Domenico, Credere, obbedire, cucinare: i ricettari italiani fra le due guerre, Torino, Ananke, 2009.
BONAVERO Michele - GAMBACORTA Bruno - MUSCI Domenico, Trecentossessantacinque volte Piemonte a tavola, Torino, Il Punto, 2010.
MUSCI Domenico, Il cavaliere Amedeo Pettini capo cuoco di S.M. il Re d’Italia e Imperatore, in “Appunti di gastronomia”, 61 (2010), pp. 117-131.
MUSCI Domenico, Menu piemontesi dall’unità d’Italia al primo conflitto mondiale: collezione e catalogo della mostra, Torino, Biblioteca della Regione Piemonte, 6 giugno-31 agosto 2011, Torino, Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte, 2011.
MUSCI Domenico, Il cuore del re. Vita e ricette di Amedeo Pettini, Torino, in stampa, 2012.