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Goodbye Chef

La piazza Almost at the end of the supremacy of Italian cuisine, we witness the “disappearance” of the chef from gastronomic literature, to be replaced by discussion of scalchi, or banquet organizers, trincianti, or carvers, coppeiri and bottiglieri, pourers and bottle servers. By this point, chefs worked within the confines of the kitchen and had lost their former prestige. Rather, it seems that writers begin to describe them with a slight derision, like in Piazza universale by Tommaso Garzoni of Bagnacavallo (1549-1589), an encyclopedic repertory of  “all the professions in the world”. Published for the first time in Venice in 1585, the book is full of hyperbole, ultimately revealing a much more mundane reality regarding kitchen work.
Banchetti de' mal cibati Giulio Cesare Croce (1550-1609) of Bologna –  author of La sollecita e studiosa Accademia dei Golosi, (The Quick and Studious Academy of Foodlovers), Lamento de' bevanti per la gran carestia del vino, (The Lament of Wine Drinkers),  L'eccellenza e trionfo del porco (The Excellency and Triumph of Pork) (Bologna, Cocchi, 1600 ca.), Banchetti de' mal cibati (about banquets) (Bologna, 1591) and La barca de' rovinati (The Shipwreck) – is not particularly interested in teaching and explaining the culinary arts. Instead, he, as well as many others, presents the whimsical tastes of the people. He also addresses the incumbent problems of hunger, famine and the fight for survival in a century torn by way, disease and disastrous economic crisis.