The Menus of the Italian Government
Events in Honor of International Guests (1883–1937)
The menus from official Government lunches and dinners – the Academia Barilla Menu Collection contains documents from the reign of Umberto I to Vittorio Emanuele III – are characterized by their simple, institutional style. The majority of the menus are single-sided and printed on card stock with the government logo embossed in gold.
Most of the examples presented are part of a large collection of 300 documents from the 1930s, related to banquets held at the Hotel Excelsior in Rome or at Palazzo Venezia. Thankfully, the location, occasion and guest list were written on the menus by a Maitre d'Hotel, providing use with additional historical cues. The meticulous hand-written notes make these menus extremely rare historical documents.
The food served at these events was always of the highest level. The government chef obviously paid attention to using typical Italian products and regional Italian recipes and wines. An exception was made for imported caviar. The menus make mention of lobster, asparagus and capon. One even includes Pizza alla Napoletana served with sparkling wine.