The riotous theater of the kitchen, with recipes handed down, jotted onto cards, or clipped from forgotten newspapers, is perhaps the only remaining arena in which the manuscript tradition can still be savored. Adaptation, corruption, suppression, and uncorrected misattribution are all essential ingredients in the living culture of the recipe. Eclectic manuscript collections--the precursors of printed cookbooks--provided the only systematic record of culinary technique before printing was introduced into Europe. An exemplary work in this genre, contemporary with Gutenberg and situated on the cutting edge of the New Gastronomy, is the manuscript Libro de Arte Coquinaria (Book on the Art of Cookery) by Maestro Martino, cook to popes and princes. Martino’s recipes cover meat, broths, vegetables, pasta, sauces, tarts, fritters, eggs, and fish. In addition to providing a delectable glimpse into the Italian Renaissance kitchen, Martino’s work has a particular importance, as it is the major source for the recipes in the first epicure’s handbook to be published in Europe, De honesta voluptate (On Decent Pleasure), ca. 1470, by the Vatican librarian known as “Il Platina.” Platina’s printed book appeared in numerous editions and exerted wide influence; Martino’s work survives only in a handful of manuscripts. The Martino manuscript in the Library of Congress, with its wonderfully legible humanist hand, is reproduced in delicious detail in this Octavo Edition, along with a new English translation and glossary by cookery historian Gillian Riley, bringing the cultured savor of this Renaissance masterpiece into a useful modern idiom. Foreword by Alice Waters, essay by Bruno Laurioux, and commentary by Gillian Riley.
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