What do you do when you retire in the 1800s? For Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911), in a movement atypical of men in his day, turned to writing. First, he wrote two books about poetry that didn’t sell much. Then, he turned to cooking.
- “The Gospel of Italian Cooking”
- “The Father of Italian Home Cookery”
- “The Father of Italian Cuisine”
Those are a few of the weighty labels I’ve seen applied to Pellegrino Artusi.
So, who was Pellegrino Artusi? He was a man who, at 71, published his own lengthy cookbook on Italian cuisine: The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well. It’s a book so well known in Italy, it’s referred to as L’Artusi — and he likely didn’t even cook.
To learn about the life of Pellegrino Artusi, and the challenges his project would have faced, it’s important to know a bit about the Italy of his time (although I’m sure his wealth helped smooth over and minimize potential issues).
Before You Get to Know Pellegrino Artusi, You Need to Know a Little History
Loquacity is not satisfied as one ages, it increases as we grow older, as does the desire for good food, sole comfort of the aged.”Pellegrino Artusi
Italy’s history is complicated. The main thing you need to know is this: before Italy was unified, Southern Italy had problems, like plenty of war, disease (Malaria), and neglect from various ruling parties. Depending on the period in history, the areas that would eventually become Italy were passed along from one royal to another, who may or may not have done diddly squat with the region.
Someone was always plotting war or actively fighting, so moments of peace didn’t last for long. There was a period of wars so heavy that it was named Italian Wars (I didn’t say it was a good name). From 1494 to 1559, these wars made Italy the focal point of European supremacy, involving the big wigs of the day (aka Spain and France).
If people weren’t fighting over control of Italy, then they were passing it around, ignoring, neglecting, or otherwise not trying to do much in the way of improving the lives of the people who lived there. Or, if leaders did try to make a change, they wouldn’t get too far without someone else swooping in and causing a ruckus, and effectively putting an end to any reforms.
Either way, the mainland South fell behind. Giuseppe Garibaldi, the man behind Italy’s unification, wasn’t a hero to everyone.
The financial disparity between Northern and Southern Italy is known as “Italian economic dualism.” It’s an apt description of the jarring divide between the prosperity of Northern Italy compared to the less than stellar conditions of Southern Italy. And it’s nothing new.
Of course, there isn’t a straight answer as to when the shift occurred. Scholars debate whether this difference began in the twelfth century or the seventeenth century, or amid various other events. Either way, for hundreds of years, these two regions have had a significant economic difference that, rather than narrowing in modern times as I would have suspected, the gulf has only widened.
Yes, the difference in lifestyle was still very much apparent even in the 1970s, according to one author.
Flip back to the not-yet Italy of old, and not everyone was neglectful. At least, not all of the time. People have written entire books on Italy, so please, save the hate mail. In the interest of space and to prevent this article from becoming a small book (too late), I’ve cherry-picked names, dates, and events. For a complete idea of Italy’s struggles, please look for books on Italy at your local library.
Reliving Italy’s Glory Days
Frederick II, King of Sicily and the Holy Roman Emperor, wanted to make his large land holdings resemble the former glory of the Roman Empire. Frederick II was something else.
When Frederick II wasn’t busy with his poetry, he did get some things done. Frederick II had ideas when it came to his domain. At least, at first.
For all that Frederick II accomplished, there were plenty of places where he missed the mark. As you’ll see below, Frederick II left a lackluster legacy. He made enemies in high places. Open conflicts between the papacy had Frederick II branded as the precursor to the anti-Christ, an oppressor, or a messiah, with plenty of bloody battles throughout his relatively short life.
Frederick II had believed churches should shrug off their wealth and return to the poor, saintly state as they began, instead of the power-grabbing hubs (and danger to his position) they had become.
Frederick II believed a monarchy had absolute power. Of course, this didn’t sit well with the papacy or other various European powers at the time, who needed the church’s support for political reasons. Northern Italy regions weren’t thrilled with Frederick II’s central control either, chaffing against Frederick II’s rule as the years passed.
Some scholars warn against considering Ferdinand II of the Holy Roman Empire a Renaissance man. While he could be forward-thinking, he managed to turn the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) from a slew of local scuffles into a major war between two religions (Catholicism and Protestantism), devastating Germany in the process (and starving a population of roughly 8 million).
Ferdinand II wanted his large domain to become Roman Catholic, spurring rebellions in multiple pockets of his holdings.
His actions had consequences. “The ancient notion of a Roman Catholic empire of Europe, headed spiritually by a pope and temporally by an emperor, was permanently abandoned, and the essential structure of modern Europe as a community of sovereign states was established,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The map of large areas of the world would forever be changed.
Napoleon Divides the Peninsula into Three
It’s easiest to think of Italy as separate states than a cohesive country. Back then, each of these areas had its own ways of doing everything, beginning with the language they spoke.
There was no sense of identity or a feeling of belonging to a particular region or area. Why would there be, what with divisions and separations occurring throughout Italy’s history? Divisions would happen again when Napoleon hit the scene in 1799.
Various civil societies started to form during the mid-1800s, as Ferdinand II (Ferdinando Carlo) took to the throne. Among these societies were groups dedicated to Italian nationalism and a unified Italy, like Young Italy, an 1831-founded group led by Giuseppe Mazzini.
Ferdinand II belonged to a part of a branch that had ruled Sicily and Naples since 1743, but his reforms wouldn’t “stick.”
Out of the gate, Ferdinand II made a series of liberal reforms. His forward-thinking didn’t last. By the mid-century mark, Italian unification or Risorgimento was widespread, with professional class uprisings. But it wasn’t only the doctors, lawyers, retailers, and other professionals getting involved. Students did too.
January 1848 saw a successful revolution in Palermo, forcing Ferdinand II to uphold a new constitution. Other leaders like Leopold II on February 17, Charles Albert on March 4, and Pope Pius IX on March 14 followed suit.
In the case of Ferdinand II, it only lasted for about four months until his army defeated a portion of the rebel cause (although there is a bit more to the story).
Long story short, the ideas of a unified Italy continued to spread and gain momentum. Ferdinand II (1810-1859), on the other hand, panicked. The few reforms in motion ended, and his response to the fiasco (basically, bombing Sicilian cities) drew the ire of influential Europeans.
Events were leading up to the war of 1859, including Britain’s yearning for a solid Italian ally against the French and the need to undermine too-powerful Austria, which prompted other world leaders to cheer for a joining of Italian states.
Thanks to the war of 1848, control fell to the Italian region of Piedmont, which managed to get Austrians out and bring the majority of Italy under their rule by 1861. This was not an easy time.
Various powers were at play, with different agendas, all trying to rule and make reforms that would benefit whatever they stood for (whether it helped the people of Italy or their interests).
The Mess of Merging Italy
Add in the latifondo system, and you’ve got a bit of a mess. Or, a whole big mess, unless you happen to be a landowner, and then you might just have it made.
Not the ideal way to spend your life. Of course, there aren’t only political and economic issues affecting southern Italy. In a word: malaria. Transmitted by mosquitos infected by a teeny-tiny, can’t-be-seen-with-the-human-eye parasite (and there are different species), malaria causes flu-like symptoms (and then some).
When malaria is left untreated, like it would have been back in the day, it leads to severe symptoms, like coma or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 1890s weren’t an easy time for Italy. Was there ever an easy time in Italy? Almost half of children born in Italy wouldn’t make it to their fifth birthday (Encyclopedia Britannica). Between malaria, bandits, bad politics, and a host of other reasons, it’s no wonder that people began to leave in search of something better.
When Pellegrino Artusi was finishing up his book and would have been getting ready to publish, the latifondo system caused a slew of uprisings.
As bad as all that is, there’s more, and it’s another big stumbling block in creating a cohesive country. Italy didn’t have the one thing that most other countries possess: a common language.
Italy’s Lack of a Common Language
“…Italy was created by a small elite at a time when more than 90% of the peninsula’s inhabitants did not speak Italian,” shared an Economist article. Imagine that. There was not a “Google translate” option.
You see, Italy only required two years of schooling (made law in 1877). The majority of Italians, some 70% in 1871, couldn’t read at all, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Two years of education would hardly make a dent.
Yet decades would pass before Italians shared a common language, and it came from an unexpected source — television. Just how many decades before Italians united in language? Try the 1960s.
You might get why I shared all the early stuff, but why tell you about something from the 1960s, when Pellegrino Artusi published his cookbook a hundred years before? Easy: so you can get a firm grasp on how many different barriers would have worked against such a project.
Although Artusi’s cookbook contains more recipes from the North (the Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna regions in particular), the areas he knew best, it’s still incredible that Pellegrino included anything else at all given the state of things.
Malaria, lack of a shared language, lack of a sense of nationalism, long-term political oversight or neglect, and illiteracy, all combined to form a very big problem. There isn’t just ONE factor that divided the north and south into such separate states of being. It’s a lot of different things.
Even today, there is a movement to separate Northern Italy from the South. Imagine, then, the regional differences Pellegrino Artusi would have faced while collecting fodder for his book. Traveling would have been downright dangerous.
Now you know a little more about the way things were for Italians, before there was Italy, and in those early years after unification. I highly recommend you take a deeper dive into Italian history for far more information than I can provide here.
Let’s take a look at the life of Pellegrino Artusi now, shall we?
Pellegrino Artusi in Forlimpopoli, Italy
Born August 4, 1820 to Agostino and Teresa Guinchi, Pellegrini Artusi was the only son and named for Saint Peregrine Laziosi (Pellegrino Latiosi) (c. 1260–May 1345), a Catholic Saint nicknamed the “Angel of Good Counsel.”
Sources (even legitimate sources) differ on how many sisters Artusi had, with numbers ranging from six to twelve. Yowza. Regardless of how many members of the Artusi family there were, we at least know they lived in Romagna.
“He went to study in Bologna and then Florence, but never got a degree, and returned home to work in his father’s pharmacy,” Cooking Every Day said.
Life changed for the family forever one winter’s day. Stefano Pelloni (1824-1851), known as “The Ferryman or “Il Passatore,” led his gang (that included a renegade priest) in a terrifying attack at the theater January 25, 1851.
The next section includes traumatic themes. Please bypass the following section, and skip down to The Artusi’s Move to Florence if you are dealing with trauma.
“Halfway through the show, when the curtains lifted, the bandits appeared and the members of the audience were robbed and kidnapped for more than three hours; some were even taken home or were forced to give access to other people’s houses for further robbery,” according to the Bassa Romagna Mia website.
But that wasn’t all. The Pellergino family website has a different side to the story, one that the majority of websites get wrong: the Artusi family wasn’t at the theater that night.
The brigands knew about the family’s wealth, so they forced a family friend, Ruggero Ricci, the son of the lawyer Melchiorre, to get the family to open the door for them. Knocking, and one may imagine, panicking, yelling about how there were wealthy merchants from Rimini, “Sure business!” says the website.
Convinced, Agostino opened the door.
The brigands burst in, attacking those in the immediate vicinity, and stealing items in the process. Rosa and Maria Franca, two of Artusi’s sisters, hid inside a fireplace, concealing themselves. Poor Geltrude Marianna, known to the family as Gertrude, ran into another room, but was caught by the brigands.
After terrible events, she got away, and jumped from the window onto the roof of a different house, later returned by a neighbor “in a deep state of shock.”
On July 16, 1855, Geltrude Marianna was hospitalized in the asylum of Pesaro. She never recovered from the horrible, awful, devasting events, and died there at the age of 49.
Stefano Pelloni died in a firefight on March 23 of the same year, so at least he couldn’t hurt anyone again. Even so, life for the Artusi family would never be the same.
The Artusi’s Move to Florence, Italy
At Artusi’s urging, the family sold the house and shop in May 1851 and moved to Florence via dei Calzaiuoli at the corner with Piazza Della Signoria, on the third floor of the eighteenth-century Palazzo dei Conti Bombicci. His mother, Teresa, died in 1858.
The family moved again, this time to n. 2 of Via dei Cerretani, at Canto alla Paglia, in the former ancient Palazzo de’Marignolli. They lived on the first floor of the large apartment. With two separate entrances, it also served as the site for their new business, at least from what I gather from the family website.
The family starts anew, this time as silk merchants. Pellegrino found a job in Livorno and later founded a bank in Florence. From 1865 to 1870, Florence served as the provisional capital. Sources say that the bank-founding led to great wealth and community respect. Pellegrino’s father, Agostino, passed away in 1861 and was buried in the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte.
Pellegrino Artusi easily lined up spouses for Rosa and Maria Franca (not hard to do when you have a nice dowry), and it sounds like that is when Pellegrino left the business.
Do the math, and he would have been 45. With his own earnings, plus income from the farms of Pieve Sestina di Cesena and Sant’Andrea in Rossano di Forlimpopoli that he owned, Pellegrino was doing just fine.
Try as I did, I cannot find out the name of the bank, what he did, how the farm tied in, or any other details of Artusi’s life at the time before he retired.
I do know that he never married. In fact, he mentions his father’s displeasure at Pellegrino’s lack of a bride in one of his books, according to the site Florence in the World: “my father in the last years of his life seemed to almost hate me because I left him without descendants.”
Without the distractions of a spouse and grandchildren, and an early retirement, you would have plenty of hours in your day to fill with something. And what would be more fulfilling than beginning a large project that can indulge your curiosity, your interest in social works and food, and your, let’s face it, idiosyncrasies?
Now he would do something with all those recipes he had long been collecting.
With everyone married off, Pellegrino Artusi moved to No. 35 Pizazza d’Azegoli square designed by Luigi del Sarto, and named after the writer and politician Massimo d’Azeglio, who died the previous year. Surrounded by 18th and 19th century buildings, it is, by all accounts, a shady and lovely space. It is where Artusi would live out the rest of his days.
Swanky. It sounds like a delightful atmosphere in which to turn your attention towards writing. Artusi first penned two books on popular poets of the day: “Ugo Foscolo” and “Observations as an Appendix on 30 Letters” by Giusti about Giuseppe Giusti.
Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827) was a poet from Zakynthos, or Zante, an area on the western side of Greece. Zante was under Venetian control from the middle of the 14th century until near the end of the 18th century.
The influences of Venice on Zante, both historically and culturally, aren’t exactly a secret. However, the Treaty of Campo Formio (17 October 1797) ended the Republic of Venice as it was, with its partitioning to France.
Still, Ugo hoped for Napoleon to let Venice go and wrote his poems to match the political debates of the day. Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis (1802; The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis) centered around a man torn between his love and country.
Five years later, in 1807, Ugo churned out “Dei Sepolcri” or Sepulchres. Mimicking the style of classic Greek and Latin (as a hendecasyllable or a line of eleven syllables) and dedicated to fellow poet Ippolito Pindemonte, Ugo used hendecasyllable form in under 300 lines (295 to be exact).
Please, feel free to hop over to Academia to read the complete translation and accompanying commentary (as well as some of his other notable works). You may read the first 15 lines of Dei Sepolcri below as translated by Ugo:
Beneath the cypress shade, or sculptured urn
By fond tears watered, is the sleep of death
Less heavy? — When for me the sun no more
Shall shine on earth, to bless with genial beams
This beauteous race of beings animate —
When bright with flattering hues the coming hours
No longer dance before me — and I hear
No more, regarded friend, thy dulcet verse,
Nor the sad gentle harmony it breathes —
When mute within my breast the inspiring voice
Of youthful poesy, and love, sole light
To this my wandering life — what guerdon then
For vanished years will be the marble reared
To mark my dust amid the countless throng
Wherewith the Spoiler strews the land and sea?
Ugo Foscolo’s Legacy
Ugo lived in Venice (1778–1799), Italy (until 1814), and Britain (1814–1827). After writing “Ode to Bonaparte the Liberator” (1797), Foscolo began a life of exile, during which he fought against Austria, first in Venice, then in Romagna, in Genoa, and even in France (1804-1806),” reads Encyclopedia.com.
Ugo experienced great popularity in London for a time. However, financial issues landed him in debtor’s prison. His popularity waned.
According to all accounts, he died in extreme poverty. His work lived on, spurring patriotism and urging those who believed in Italian unification. He had such an effect that 44 years after his death, although he was initially buried at St Nicholas Church, Chiswick, the King of Italy, had Ugo’s final resting place moved in a show of national pride and solidarity.
This time, to the Church of Santa Croce in Florence (the same church highly regarded in his work, Dei Sepolcri) and already entombed with the likes of Michelangelo and Galileo.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to think of long ago people as having a sense of humor. I know that’s wrong, but don’t you think of everyone walking around all stony-faced and serious? Anyway, Giuseppe Giusti (1809-1850) was a funny guy or, at least, a funny poet. Artusi’s second book detailed Giusti’s life. Ready for the highlight’s reel?
This guy wrote La Guigliottina a Vapore or The Steam Guillotine (1833). Unlike most satirists of the day, he didn’t stick with the three-line rhyme format or blank verse. Instead, he wrote using different lyrical applications. In Guigliottina a Vapore, he writes about how China came up with a new steam guillotine to make decapitation more efficient for its dictators.
It’s funny in a not-funny way and was a jab at political tyrant Francesco IV of Modena.
“Taken its their entirety, his political satires present a picture of Italy in his day. They are directed against social abuses of many sorts, and at the same time they express a longing for political and moral regeneration.
In view of the frankness and the acritude with which he assailed the grand-ducal government and the Austrians, it is surprising that he escaped the dungeon to which so many other Italian patriots of the time were condemned.,” according to StudyLight.
You can see why Artusi would like these gutsy men. I barely skimmed the surface. There’s so much more I could have shared (I am completely hooked on their story.)
Alas, Artusi’s books on these two men weren’t well-received and didn’t give him fame or fortune. Artusi turned his attention to something else that had long captivated his interest: food. Good food for the body and the soul.
Pellegrino had long been collecting recipes. Wherever he stayed, he found a way to hang out in the kitchen, watching and taking notes.
Artusi found something to not only occupy his time, but to share his opinions on the healthy way to eat, and his own personal anecdotes along the way. He stepped into the kitchen. Well, sort of.
Pellegrino Artusi Writes a Cookbook
See that title? Okay, it’s in Italian, but note that the title is The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well. Remember now, this book isn’t about COOKING well, it’s about EATING well. There’s a reason for that, which we will get to in a moment.
The Science of Cooking wasn’t the first Italian cookbook. After all, Italy in different incantations had been around for centuries. However, it was the first cookbook published after Italy’s unification in 1861. What’s more, Pellegrino Artusi was the first to include recipes in a cookbook from every region after Italy’s unification.
Imagine that. Discovering a use for the foods typical to your region. To have a reason to reach for the olive oil that’s abundant where you live, for someone to show you (or, more likely, your cook) other methods of food preparation, because this book? This book was accessible.
The language in which he wrote his celebrated recipe book La scienza incucina e l’arte di mangiar bene puts into everyday Tuscan speech all those expressions which until then, in recipe books and elsewhere, had been expressed by Italianized French words, or indeed directly in French.19th Century Florence Itineraries: Piazza D’Azeglio, September 27, 2009.
For example, according to the wonderful blog, Luca’s Italy, there was a popular saying floating around Florence at the time about the people of Senia, a city today nicknamed “medieval Manhattan.”
Pellegrino would have known this saying too. He includes MOST of the phrase in his cookbook, switching out the last bit to jousting. His readers would have been shocked as they began to read and likely would have laughed at the twist at the end. Clever.
The Scientific Method Applied to Cooking
Pellegrio Artusi, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, Page 87.
I believe he would have made a wonderful blogger or food writer, don’t you? But humor can only take you so far. After all, this is a cookbook. So, what about these recipes? Everyone everywhere appears to agree that Pellegrino Artusi likely didn’t help in the cooking.
Yes, as he mentions several times throughout his book, his recipes were tested, even extensively, when the dish proved trickier than expected. Just not by his hand. Perhaps that best explains why he titled his book as he did.
As a fan of the scientific method, Pellegrino Artusi tested his recipes or, you know, he had his cook prepare them. Pellegrino used terms like “q.b.” or “quanto basta” meaning “as needed.” Funny, because that sort of measurement is a running joke in our family. I’ll say to add something until it “looks right” or is “a good amount.”
It is true that Pellegrino’s recipes didn’t possess a Julia Child or Maida Heatter level of measurement accuracy, as he sometimes left them out altogether. But, he is unique in that his regional cookbook gave home cooks direction.
His cook, Francesco Ruffilli, and his housekeeper, Marietta Sabatini, were the muscle here.
This wasn’t a dry cooking manual. I think we all own enough of those cookbooks, don’t we? While great for technical information, those types of texts are not something you want to sit with and read. Pellegrino’s book was different.
Between the language, humor, scientific method, and recipes, I would imagine that Pellegrino felt confident about his finished book. He dedicated his work to his two felines: Biancani and Sibillone.
And yet, like so many modern-day authors…Pellegrino Artusi couldn’t find a publisher for Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Publisher after publisher turned him down, basing their decline on his lack of food-related background, or asked for ridiculous rights Pellegrino wisely rejected, such as passing over 200 lire and the rights to the book.
But, lucky for Pellegrino, he was a wealthy man and paid for his first printing from Florence typographer Salvatore Landi.
As any author would, you give your books away to people and places where it makes sense. Pellegrino handed over two copies to a local lottery. The winners promptly turned them over to a tobacconist.
That would have been a bit of a blow. But, Artusi carried on. He just needed to find the right audience, people who enjoyed food and humor. Spoiler alert: he did.
Finding the Right Audience
Pellegrino Artusi, The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well, on Apple Strudel
So, okay, the tobacco shop may not have been the point of contact for his ideal audience. But, people who would benefit from the book were out there. Pellegrino just needed to spread the word.
For his first edition, Pellegrino had 1,000 copies printed by Salvadore Landi. In 1895, he added 1,000 more, then 2,000 more in 1897, and 3,000 more in 1899 and 1900, according to Gastromimix (translated to English).
Florentine publisher R. Bemporad & Figlio began national distribution, leading to a significant uptick in popularity (and sales). In 1902, Pellegrino included a note thanking R. Bemporad for the hard work spent in promoting the book.
But this cookbook wasn’t some stagnant thing, unchanging from edition to edition. It was a never-ending work-in-progress. People sent in letters, with recipes, featuring foods they felt needed inclusion, or to share a different version.
That’s part of how Pellegrino’s audience grew. When people get to be a part of something, when they feel invested, they can’t help but to share it.
Although it was Pellegrino Artusi’s most successful cookbook, it wasn’t his last. In 1904, Ecco il tuo libro di cucina, or Here is Your Cookbook with (anonymous) collaboration from the baroness Giulia Turco (1848-1912), or Giulia Turco Lazzari, from Trento, Italy, shared Italy Magazine.
Not only a naturalist and a writer, the baroness had a keen interest in gastronomy, or the art of eating or cooking good food.
“By the end of the 19th century, her main focus was on gastronomy and she created a large recipe file and catalogue maintained between 1899 and 1901 with Pellegrino Artusi,” according to PraBook, a registered trademark of World Biographical Encyclopedia, Inc.
Turco’s involvement with the book remained anonymous, by all accounts, until much later. I can find very little mention of this work, let alone the product, or I would link to it for your convenience.
Death of Pellegrino Artusi
Pellegrino Artusi lived in Florence for sixty years, until his death in 1911 at the age of 91. He didn’t have heirs. In a neat move, and a welcome boon to the area, Pellegrino left his property to the town of Forlimpopoli (I could say that word all day).
His hometown has not forgotten his generosity. The town of Forlimpopoli holds the Festa Artusian. That’s nine days of food and entertainment. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? But wait, there’s more — such as Casa Artusi.
Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli
The Casa Artusi library holds Artusi’s lounge and study, filled with the books and letters from recipe sharing Italians or those who wanted a copy of the cookbook. You can take cooking classes from Casa Artusi, in-person or virtual, with gentle guidance from “the Grandmas or the Mariettas.”
With event space and meeting areas, plus a restaurant (Restaurant Casa Artusi), it appears to be a real hub of food-related activity. Every year, The Artusi Prize is presented to someone who is currently doing with food what Artusi did long ago —furthering the conversation.
Past Artusi Prize Winners:
- Wendell Berry (2008)
- Serge Latouche (2009)
- Don Luigi Ciotti (2010)
- Oscar Farinetti (2011)
- Andrea Segrè (2012)
- Mary Ann Esposito (2013)
- Enzo Bianchi (2014)
- Alberto Alessi (2015)
- Carlo Petrini (2016)
- Vittorio Citterio (2017)
- Josè Graziano da Silva (2018)
- Lidia Bastianich (2019)
- Paolo Loprore and Rosa Soriano (2020)
Non-professionals, like Pellegrino Artusi, have a shot at being recognized. “Both the town of Forlimpopoli and the Festa Artusiana would like to dedicate the award to all current-day “Mariettas,” all those men and women who show an interest and flair in the kitchen and apply the basic principles of “The Science of Cookery and the Art of Eating Well,” reads the City of Forlimpopoli website.
Each year, amateur cooks submit their recipe entries before the posted deadline for a chance at becoming one of five home cooks who will then cook their dish during the Festa Artusiana for judging by the panel. The winner receives 1,000 euros.
Previous Marietta Award Winners:
- 2010: Andrea Marconetti (Milan), Pisarei with herbs and legumes
- 2011: Fabio Giordano (Palermo), Fresh busiati with red prawn from Mazara del Vallo and macco di fave fresco
- 2012: Raffaella Bugini (Valbrembo), Risotto al moscato di scanzo with biligòcc and strachitund fondue
- 2013: Rolando Repossi (Casatenovo) Ravioli di grandma Costantina
- 2014: Francesco Canu (Sassari), Culurgiones a ispighitta cun pumata
I’m having trouble locating the info on the rest of the winners’ list. If you should know the names, locations, and shared dish, please let me know using my contact form or a comment below. Thank you.
Is the Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well Still Relevant Today?
Pellegrino Artusi, The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well.
For many Italians, the answer is a resounding, “Yes,” or, perhaps I should say, “Si?” The English cookbook editions include watercolor illustrations by renowned Italian artist Guiliano Della Casa (1942-). But as for today’s relevance, well, that was put to the test not too long ago.
On August 10, 2014, Pellegrino Artusi’s work was judged at a mock trial by Sammauroindustria at La Torre – Villa Torlonia, asking the question, “Is Pellegrino Artusi’s cuisine modern or outdated?” Since 2001, Sammaruoindustria has promoted trials featuring important historic figures.
After hearing both sides from relevant representatives, the jury, made up of audience members, vote. For the Pellegrino Artusi trial, the prosecutors and defense were members of the food community, highly-regarded writers or chefs/restaurant owners.
Gianfranco Miro Gori (President of Sammauroindustria)
Alfredo Antonaros (writer) and Silverio Cineri (chef)
Alberto Faccani (chef) and Piero Meldini (writer)
In the case of Pellegrino Artusi, 288 out of 372 people voted in favor of Pellegrino, 76 against, and 8 undecided votes (according to La Piazza). Audience members aside, there are plenty of others in Italy (and throughout the rest of the world) that would agree with Pellegrino Artusi’s relevancy.
Consider his recipe for Bolognese.
You can take a look at the two recipes below.
That isn’t to say that things haven’t changed. After all, food and how people handled it was changing during Pellegrino’s time, or he wouldn’t have received so many letters (and published so many editions). Memorie di Angelina shares a June menu from Artusi’s book.
The author of the piece mentioned above then describes how Italians would approach such a menu today:
It’s interesting to see how things have changed and how they have stayed the same, at least in one Italian’s view. I’d love to learn about other examples. Do share if you have such knowledge.
Pellegrino Artusi Changed Everything
Pellegrino Artusi – The Pioneer of Italian Gastronomy, Slow Travel Tours, April 5, 2020.Marcello & Raffaella Tori,
Pellegrino Artusi didn’t just write a cookbook with measurements and instruction. He added his insights, collections of recipes from across the new country that he’d been collecting for years, later including recipes sent his way after his first edition was published, all while introducing standardized Italian.
This was far more than a simple cookbook. It was a game changer. He is credited with building the customs of the fledgling country as well as the language. Each of his subsequent editions included alterations to the recipes and the language to reflect the time.
After a bit of browsing, I’ve learned that his book is often referred to simply as “L’Artusi.” Further digging revealed that the cookbook has long been shortened in that way. Alfredo Panzini (1863–1939), a novelist and a lexicographer (he wrote a dictionary on modern words not found in the common dictionary), included Pellegrino Artusi.
Two decades after Pellegrino’s death, the 1931 edition of the Modern Dictionary (a compilation of words not found in other dictionaries), included this (as translated from Italian):
Pellegrino Artusi Recipes
It isn’t everyone who can boast of a dictionary entry. It isn’t everyone who can hold onto popularity and usefulness for so long after their death either. Bloggers, food writers, cookbook authors, and home (and pro) cooks everywhere still turn to Pellegrino’s book.
Craving more? Discover a bevy of Pellegrino Artusi recipes and commentary from the following websites and blogs:
- Aglio Vestito: Chicken alla Marengo Recipe by Artusi: Pollo alla Marengo
- Amio Pulses: Side Dish of Pureed Lentils
- Chewing the Fat: Pellegrino Artusi’s Bolognese
- La Cucina Italiana: Recipe No. 7 by Pellegrino Artusi: Cappelletti all’Uso di Romagna
- Cuoche in Vacanza: Italian Carnival fried dough: i Cenci!
- Eat like a Girl: Pellegrino Artusi and a Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)
- Emiko Davies: Artusi’s Semolina Cake
The Globe & Mail: Cappelletti all’Uso di Romagna
- Italian Tribune: Crescioni, Cauliflower Frittata, and Pesce a Taglio in Umido
- Luca’s Italy: Torta di Noci: Walnut and Chocolate Cake: Chestnuts and Truffles TV
- Pastabites: A recipe from history – Cat’s tongues
- The Spruce Eats: Trippa – Tripe in Traditional Italian Cuisine
- Tammy Circeo: Italian Sausage with Grapes & Herbs
- The Washington Post: Artusi’s Donzelline (Little Damsels)
Yes, I will add in new links to websites and blogs with Pellegrino Artusi recipes as I find them (or you send them to me).
Pellegrino Artusi Cookbooks
Alfredo Panzini, Modern Dictionary, 1931.
I usually arrange an author’s cookbook by the year of publication. However, we’ll have to mix it up a bit with Pellegrino. Not all editions are made equal. I include the best of the best, so translated versions appeared much later.
Do note that “Science of” (2003) and “Eating Well” (1997) are the same book, but by two different publishing houses, so maybe not quite the same. Avoid the 2012 version called Italian Cook Book by Olga Ragusa. That version omits Pellegrino’s personality from the recipes.
The Penguin book Exciting Food for Southern Types is not the full version either. Stick with the cookbook editions from Random House (1996) or the University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division (2003) for the book in full. Buon appetito.