The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’arte et prudenza d’un maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library)

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Bartolomeo Scappi (c. 1500-1577) was arguably the most famous chef of the Italian Renaissance. He oversaw the preparation of meals for several Cardinals and was such a master of his profession that he became the personal cook for two Popes. At the culmination of his prolific career he compiled the largest cookery treatise of the period to instruct an apprentice on the full craft of fine cuisine, its methods, ingredients, and recipes. Accompanying his book was a set of unique and precious engravings that show the ideal kitchen of his day, its operations and myriad utensils, and are exquisitely reproduced in this volume.

Scappi's Opera presents more than one thousand recipes along with menus that comprise up to a hundred dishes, while also commenting on a cook's responsibilities. Scappi also included a fascinating account of a pope's funeral and the complex procedures for feeding the cardinals during the ensuing conclave. His recipes inherit medieval culinary customs, but also anticipate modern Italian cookery with a segment of 230 recipes for pastry of plain and flaky dough (torte, ciambelle, pastizzi, crostate) and pasta (tortellini, tagliatelli, struffoli, ravioli, pizza).

Terence Scully presents the first English translation of the work. His aim is to make the recipes and the broad experience of this sophisticated papal cook accessible to a modern English audience interested in the culinary expertise and gastronomic refinement within the most civilized niche of Renaissance society.

Product Details

  • Series: Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division (January 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442611480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442611481
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds

Customer Reviews

Into the mind of a Renaissance chef

4 people found this helpful.
 on May 8, 2012
By Katharine E. Quinn
One of the best additions to my research library ever! Part cookbook and part memoir, this is a collection of recipes and reminiscences by master chef Bartolomeo Scappi, personal cook to two Renaissance popes. The recipes are interesting enough in themselves, and well worth trying out (the elderflower fritters – yum) but the real fascination comes when Scappi talks more personally. His pride in his work and his love of good food shine through every word with transparent sincerity – I would have loved to hang around this man’s kitchen, begging for pearls of wisdom and bites of whatever he had on the stove.


3 people found this helpful.
 on February 18, 2009
By Kindle Customer
It was well worth the wait and any serious food historian needs to read this book. It is rich in papal history, illustrations, and food history. The illustrations along with the explanations are invaluable.

Five stars, amazing, wonderful, definitive.

3 people found this helpful.
 on October 10, 2012
By The Strife of Love in a Dream
This exhaustive work is surely going to become a major classic in the field of food history. Author Terence Scully has produced a translation of such scope and such thoroughness that it’s hard to imagine anything else happening.

A new cuisine

13 people found this helpful.
 on April 13, 2010
By Gaelaxy
Bartolomeo Scappi rose to the highest levels of fame by serving as head chef to two Popes during the Renaissance. The Popes and the Cardinals that he served over the years appreciated his talent with food and kitchen management. His book was a best seller in its own time with numerous reprints. His fame and honor were well-earned because he always strove to find the best way to serve each cut of meat or kind of vegetable to bring out its most succulent properties.

Scappi is the Joy of cooking for the Italian Renaissance

33 people found this helpful.
 on January 25, 2009
By S. Louise Smithson
Praises: Rarely is a cookbook translation of this size made available by the publisher at such a reasonable price. If you are recreating feasts for the Society of Creative Anachronism or just have an interest in Italian food this is the book for you. Over 1000 detailed recipes translated into English for the first time. With more variations within each recipe bringing the total to probably over 2000 variations. How could you not buy this book? Given the price including shipping that works out for a mere 4c a recipe.

this is one of the best reference books around for 16th century Italy

 on December 11, 2016
By Monica G.
If you’re an amateur medieval historical cook (*cough SCA cough*), this is one of the best reference books around for 16th century Italy. Terrance Scully did a great job with the explanations and references. Get it. 🙂

Five Stars

One person found this helpful.
 on September 30, 2015
By mike

A useful reference book

One person found this helpful.
 on October 7, 2015
By David Fillingham
A masterfully written book and translation. Highly recommended.

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