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By Katherine A. McIver

Renaissance Italy’s paintings, literature, and tradition proceed to fascinate. The household existence has been tested extra lately, and this publication finds the guidance, consuming, and the sociability of eating in Renaissance Italy. It takes readers backstage to the Renaissance kitchen and eating room, the place daily nutrients in addition to lavish banquets have been ready and fed on. Katherine McIver considers the layout, apparatus, and placement of the kitchen and meals prep and garage rooms in either middle-class houses and grand state estates. The diner’s room, the orchestration of eating, and the theatrical adventure of eating are special to boot, all within the context of the well known nutrition and architectural students of the day.

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21 The medieval prince insisted that the diverse phases of his meal be handled dependably and in an orderly fashion: this included the setting up of board and bench; clean tablecloths, salt boat, platters, and other silverware and cutlery; the summoning to the table; the washing of hands; the actual serving of prepared dishes and wine; wine replenishing; clearing away after every course of dishes; and the sweeping of table scraps into alms baskets intended for the poor. 22 Menus and Meal Planning In the planning of any menu, the cook was expected to take into account not simply the season of the year and the availability of ingredients, but also the rules of the Church and its calendar of feasts and fasts, days on which meat was permitted, and days when substitutes had to be found.

8 The kitchens of any large household were staffed entirely by men, from the head cook to the scullery boy, and the same applied to caterers whose services could be called on for wedding parties and other special occasions, whereas in small households, the cook might well be a woman, the housewife herself. 9 A grand household with its own kitchen staff was designed to be self-sufficient, able to provide all the cooked staples and luxuries the master required. The Kitchen Upper-class kitchens were not situated close to the dining or main living areas due to the noise, smells, heat, smoke, and threat of fire associated with cooking.

Among the ten guests were Ficino’s father, the renowned poet, Cristoforo Landino (1424–1492), and the noble statesman, diplomat, and scholar, Giovanni Cavalcante (ca. 1444–1509). Women had no place at Ficino’s table—it was a confraternity of men. The meal at Careggi reflected Ficino’s thoughts on dining as outlined in his “De sufficinetia,” a treatise written in the form of a letter to Bernardo Bembo, a philosopher, which described a setting of small groups of no less than three and no more than the number of Muses, with an opportunity for discussion, and a modest, but exquisite meal with the appropriate wines.

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