“Cooking as a means of reading contemporary history has often been underestimated. Cuisine is a product of its time and it can tell us a lot about customs, ways of thinking, specific economic and political situations. Thus, a cookbook is often much more than it seems. These words are those of Matteo Ghirighini, the director of a mecca of culinary culture, the Garum, Biblioteca e Museo della Cucina, (The Garum, library and kitchen museum) which recently opened its doors in Rome. This place, which aims to be a lively and unusual way of honoring the past, explores more than 500 years of local culinary traditions, informing visitors about what has been described as a “new form of food archaeology”, testifying, among other , of how food has always been one of the glories of the Eternal City. This museum was housed in an old monastery on top of the Palatine Hill, a symbolic place in Roman mythology, because according to legend, the wolf goddess, Lupa, nursed the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, there. same, about 2,700 years ago.
All the refinement of the utensils of yesteryear
Le Garum attempts to resurrect Italian recipes and cooking techniques that have slowly disappeared over time. Thus, the first floor of the museum presents an exceptional display of kitchen utensils of yesteryear, including 17th century cake pans and hand-painted terrine pots from all over the country. These objects, once used by a certain elite, have become increasingly rare. There is also a multitude of decorative molds to shape the chocolate. A host of other curiosities line the shelves, including 17th century ice cream moulds, models of early gas ovens and even a children’s play kitchen produced in 1898. These functional, sophisticated, refined and highly varied accessories, represent only half of the acquired collection, the culmination of a longtime obsession of hotelier-turned-patissier Rossano Boscolo. In the early 1980s, this chef began to accumulate these kitchen objects and equipment, later opening a culinary academy in the Tuscan city. It was enough for Boscolo to take the plunge and compile texts of historical recipes, accumulating a collection that is both complete and eclectic. Finally, after nearly 40 years of amassing these treasures, Boscolo made his collection public, placing Ghirighini at its head, an antiquarian bookseller by profession before becoming the director of the Roman kitchen museum. Today, about 130 old titles, mostly rare, make up a choice library on the second floor of this museum. They cover a long period from a 1517 edition of De honesta voluptate by Bartolomeo Sacchi (the first practical cookbook ever printed) to a 1932 first edition of the modern, radical and controversial cookbook by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, writer and founder of the futurist movement.
A 16th century sculptor, expert meat cutter
Among the many discoveries of this museum, a technique of cutting food mastered thoroughly and knowingly by a sculptor named Vincenzo Cervio. The latter was attached to the Italian cardinal Alessandro Farnese and had written in 1593 a work entitled Il Trinciante (The engraving knife). In 74 chapters, Cervio had revealed his way of cutting fish, cakes, fruits and vegetables with precision, as well as all kinds of meat, including poultry, turkeys, pheasants and other peacocks. Detailed sketches illustrate Cervio’s favorite stitches to ensure juicy, flavorful cuts. Matteo Ghirighini clarifies: “Since the publication of the first mass-printed cookbook almost 550 years ago, many Italian recipes have been virtually lost, hibernating in ancient texts hidden in repositories. »
The Museo della Cucina wanted to rectify this. Its collection, based on that of Italian chef Rosso Boscolo, encompasses the oldest and rarest cookbooks, some of which were intended only for popes. Finally, he hopes that this museum will make it easier for all visitors to immerse themselves in history, through the collections themselves, but also a series of tastings and conferences. And to conclude: “After all, if most of us come to Rome to enjoy the best cuisine in the world, why not find out more? And first of all, that the name Garum, given to the museum, is that of a fish-based sauce that was very popular in ancient Rome…
“Cooking as a means of reading contemporary history has often been underestimated. Cuisine is a product of its time and it can tell us a lot about customs, ways of thinking, specific economic and political situations. Thus, a cookbook is often much more than it seems. These words are those of Matteo Ghirighini, the…
The Garum Museo della Cucina, a “food archaeology” to the glory of the Eternal City