Other displays held books. I stopped in front of an illustration to look at pieces of meat being cooked over high heat in a 16th-century rotisserie; in the photo beside, Italian men were seated at a banquet table, eating. These sketches adorn the cover of one of the oldest cookbooks on display at the museum, Il Trinciante, written in 1593 by Vincenzo Cervio. The author was a toasting, or sculptor, for the Italian cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Cervio’s 74-chapter opus reveals how to precisely cut fish, pies, fruits and vegetables and, most importantly, meat and poultry like pork, chicken, turkey, pheasant and peacock . Detailed drawings specify Cervio’s preferred cutting points to ensure juicy, flavorful cuts.
Il Trinciante is one of 120 cookbooks in the Museo della Cucina, a museum to open in May 2022 that will be the first in the city to focus on the history of food and cooking. Since the publication of the first mass-printed cookbook nearly 550 years ago, many Italian recipes have been virtually lost, hibernating in old texts hidden away in repositories, museum director Matteo Ghirighini said. The Museo della Cucina aims to rectify that. Its collection is based on that of Italian chef Rosso Boscolo and includes many of the oldest and rarest cookbooks in existence, including some originally intended only for popes. Boscolo’s Tuscan cooking school, Campus Etoile Academy, will help the museum cultivate rare ingredients and perfect overlooked recipes once reserved for royalty.
When I previewed the museum in November 2021, it was preparing for launch. I stumbled upon it by accident. Rome is so awash with extraordinary sights that it’s easy to overlook the monumental churches and the remains of 2,000-year-old palaces, not to mention a yet-to-be-opened kitchen museum.
But already the Museo della Cucina had been included on Google Maps. And as I used my phone’s GPS, I noticed his list. What first piqued my interest was its remarkable location. The museum is wedged between two of Rome’s most important historical sites – the 2,600-year-old Circus Maximus stadium and the Palatine Hill, where Rome was founded and which is covered in the remains of ancient palaces and temples.