of Maestro Martino da Como.
NovaCharta Editori with the support of the Civic Library and the Historical Archives of the Municipality of Riva del Garda, and thanks to the project “Salviamo un Codice” conceived by the editorial director Vittoria de Buzzaccarini, repairs the “Libro de cosina” by Maestro Martino da Como, Lombard cook who lived in 1400 who worked at the Sforza court and in the Vatican.
The manuscript, dating back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, is considered a cornerstone of Italian and international gastronomic literature. An important book with 287 recipes that is considered the watershed between medieval and modern cuisine thanks to the experimentation of taste with the correct use of spices and new cooking systems. Martino was the first cook to consider the primary colors of the ingredients as an integral part of the recipes. This wise operation anticipates today’s attention to the aesthetics of the dish.
About the cooking time, Martino gave specific instructions that today may seem bizarre, but that must be contextualized in the era where he worked: a variable number of prayers (Pater Noster or Miserere), must be recited while cooking. This unusual tip was an ingenious gimmick for the vulgus, because in this way they could adjust the cooking time since the book was mainly dedicated to the people.
This manuscript – one of the five existing – is apparently the most complete and it is preserved in the Civic Library of Riva del Garda. There is no information about how it got there, but it is known that it was among the documents in the Municipal Historical Archives in 1936. Professor Gianbattista Festari of Pavia discovered the book and announced it in a ‘La Stampa Sera’ article, Turin newspaper, on 26 May 1937. “The culinary recipes of Martino De’ Rossi ‘magisto del ‘400’”, was the title of the article.
NovaCharta repairs the manuscript
Studio RES will repair the “Libro de cosina”, thanks to the expert hands of Melania Zanetti, lecturer at Ca’ Foscari and president of the Italian Association of Conservators and Restorers of Archives and Libraries. The book had already been restored after the war and this action prevented its degradation by avoiding the loss of valuable historical information.
After the manuscript was restored and returned to its original library, NovaCharta Editori will publish a commentary volume in the ‘Quaderni di Restauro’ series, describing the origins, history, and conservation procedure of each work. Sometimes, a faithful reproduction of the book is also produced in partnership with some libraries, so that the book can be consulted without damaging the original one.