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Leonardo’s Menu


It is common knowledge that among the drawings in the Atlantic Codex which can be seen in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano there are sketches made by Leonardo in his studies on kitchen utensils.

And he also dealt with even more frivolous matters: for example, he designed scenery machinery, decorations and backdrops for the great feasts held by Ludovico il Moro such as the wedding banquet for Gian Galeazzo Sforza.

The ingredients of these princely banquets attended by Leonardo were those which are still on our tables today: veal, pork, beef, game, rice, vegetables, spices. And that great Lombard speciality, frogs.

When talking about a multifaceted genius like L eonardo, we cannot rule out the possibility that he also carried out experiments in the kitchen…

Some scholars believe the Romanoff Codexto be authentic (it is a transcription supposedly made by Pasquale Pisapia in 1931 from a Codex which had been kept in the Hermitage since 1835. The Hermitage however, denies it ever existed…). But to stay on the safe side and not takes risks with recipes that seem more than a little daring, we have patiently reconstructed a menu with the recipes of four great Renaissance chefs (and in this case, there are no doubts about their authenticity):

  • Martino de’ Rossi or Martino de Rubeisknown as Master Martino of Como even though he was from Torre in val di Blenio, was the most important cook in the 15th century and author of the Book of the Culinary Arts orLibro “de Arte Coquinaria,”,”;

  • Messisbugo, or Messi, known as Sbugo (as he signed himself in documents), who was born in Ferrara towards the end of the 15th century and whose book “Banquets, composition of dishes and general layout” was published posthumously in 1549 containing 315 recipes;

  • Vincenzo Cervio, a carver (meaning the person who carved the meat for diners who did not yet have knives and forks at their disposal…) from Casa Farnese, who in the second half of the 16th century named his book after his profession, calling it “The Carver”, and here he describes the dishes served at great princely banquets;

  • Bartolomeo Scappi (c.1500 – 1577) was a cook in the Vatican kitchens during the reign of Pope Pius IV. He later continued as cook under Pius V. At the height of his career he published a grand treatise on the cookery of the time which included over a thousand recipes, kitchen utensils and all that a Renaissance cook of the highest order needed to know.

Enjoy your meal… or at least enjoy the read!