If you are neither Italian nor a Gourmet Scholar you have probably never heard or come across the name of Martino di Rossi alias Maestro Martino of Como.
Well, I have learned from my friend Gianni (which happen to open Milano’s newest Wine Scene in his honour) that Maestro Martino is a 15th century cook and to many the equivalent in the Gourmet World to what Leonardo da Vinci was to Science, Painting and Engineering.
He was born in Torre (inside the former
) now-a-days Canton Ticino in the Italian Switzerland. Como City State
If I have managed to catch your attention now, you will probably want to read his cooking book, named "Libro de arte coquinaria" (the art of cooking), there you will find his original recipes still actual and still delicious.
He is also known as the Prince of Cooks, because in his days he was the cook of many nobles and important dignitaries.
His recipes were also influenced by other cultures as he had spent some of his life in
(back then under the rule of the Spaniards). Naples
Returning to his master piece, his book is considered a landmark in Italian cuisine literature because as you can imagine dated all the way from the 15th century is an important historical record. In his work one can observe the shift from the European Medieval to the Renaissance cuisine. Imagine Italy as the centre of the Renaissance era, I bet you did not even considered that this effervescent period was not all about Painting, Writing, Sculpture, Science!?
You see our eating habits have also evolved with the advent of many important human developments, for example during the era of the Discoveries Portuguese Navigators brought to Europe many strange exotic ingredients from far distant and unknown lands that have affected/changed for good the European Cuisine. The same can also be observed in many of the “Ultramar” countries where the Conquistadores have arrived (Japan is a good example, Tempura is the result of the Portuguese cuisine influence).
Returning back to the subject of today’s post, well, Maestro Martino was for sure a visionary in his days and his bold experiences in the kitchen made it possible for him to be disputed by many important people of his days in order to have his services in their kitchens.
Even though he was a purist in the search of the real taste of the ingredients, that is avoiding the excess of spices (very common during those days); still he was a connoisseur of the Catalan, Arab and Oriental kitchen that influenced his recipes. He was a methodical man, with particular attention to colour and cooking time.
He developed many kitchen appliances, advocated the importance of hygiene, cooking methods, healthy eating habits, ingredients from the local territory, etc. He was the first known person to use the word “Polpetta” or meatball and the creator of a predecessor what we know today as “Mostarda Vicentina”.
So there you go, today we have honoured Maestro Martino of Como, curious? Want to try some of his original recipes? Then please pay a visit to Maestro Martino Wine Bar at Porta Romana (Milano).
Chef Gourmet Du Art