Maestro Martino, Italy’s prince of cooks

Maestro Martino, Italy’s prince of cooks

Maestro Martino


Chefs, Profiles

The art of Renaissance style cooking

Maestro Martino aka Martino da Como was a 15th century mastermind chef who was a pioneer in cookbook writing. His first opus, titled Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking), was published in 1465 and is considered one of the biggest strides in Italian gastronomic culture.

The recipes from the cookbook were highly influential for 15th century thinking and the humanist philosopher Bartolomeo Sacchi included almost half of Maestro Martino’s recipes in his own book on the art of cooking titled De Honesta Voluptae et Valetudine.

The cookbook divulges all manner of kitchen etiquette in Renaissance era cooking, as well as ingredients, quantities, cooking times, techniques, utensils and the secrets of a culinary expert. This was unique for the time, as many recipes instructions were highly generalized and geared towards people already familiar with cooking methods.

He does still include simple and charming recipes like Eggs Coddled in Their Shells: “Place fresh eggs in cold water and boil them for the time it takes you to say a Lord’s Prayer, or a little bit longer, and remove.”

In Martino’s Libro de arte coquinaria, a handful of recipes for vermicelli are included, which can last two or three years when dried in the sun. There are also more peculiar recipes, such as mustard made with sandalwood, eel torte, aspic in a basket and hemp-seed pottage. The recipes from The Neapolitan Recipes chapter include Broth for a Delicate Man and Porridge for a Sick Man.

The chapters in the cookbook explore a handful of themes

  • How to Make Every Sort of Victual
  • How to Make Every Type of Sauce
  • How to Make Every Sort of Torte
  • How to Make Every Sort of Fritter
  • How to Cook Eggs in Every Way
  • How to Cook Every Type of Fish
  • The Riva del Garda Recipes
  • The Neapolitan Recipes
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