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March 22, 2023

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  1. Questions, Questions, Questions In this presentation we will review some

    sketches by Leonardo da Vinci; some believe that these designs were created to be used in the kitchen—while some believe they were mere studies with no application intended. • Is cooking an art or a science? • Is cooking an alchemy or magic? The answer usually depends on who you’re talking to. Traditionally, the conceived wisdom was that – while pastry chefs draw on both art and science – the archetypal chef is more alchemist than scientist, concerned less with deconstructing the mechanics behind the transmutation of substances than with its delicious results. These are some food for thought: • What are the parallels between the Kitchen and a Studio? • Is there a connection between cooking and printmaking? • Can we state that printmaking is an art practice filled with science, alchemy, and magic?
  2. Leonardo's Kitchen Notebooks: Leonardo da Vinci's notes on cookery and

    table etiquette By Shelagh and Jonathan Routh Years ago, I came across the Spanish publication of this book; I was in Mexico City. I am still fascinated by it! Part history, part biography, and part cookbook, this fascinating exploration of an as-yet unexamined facet of Leonardo da Vinci's life focuses on what and how he ate. There is a lot of controversy if these designs were made for the kitchen or if they were sketches for future inventions. This
  3. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Wind up egg slicer With all

    the controversies, what we know is that as a young boy, taking time from his duties at Verocchio’s studio he earned pocket money working of a Florentine tavern. He co-owned a tavern with Sandro Botticelli and became later on the Master of the Revels and Feasting to the Sforza Court. The book include recipes, design of devices— maybe for the kitchen—to improve cookery, recommendations on the etiquette at the table and more. These notes are known as the Codex Romanoff.
  4. The great artist, scientist, and inventor was no slouch in

    the kitchen, having worked as a kind of theatrical caterer, producing feasts with extravagant menus for royalty. This book has intriguing illustrations and perhaps unlocks his cooking code, the food history of his day—and his inventions—some might say kitchen inventions. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Illustration of knives Right: Device to count up to one half a dozen of eggs and measure the cubic volume.
  5. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Blender-blade, attachment designed to substitute the

    pestle and mortar Right: Machine to stretch spaghetti These notes were written by Leonardo for his own use, during his service as advisor to Luigi Sforza, the head of a prominent aristocratic family of Florence’s Renaissance.
  6. Da Vinci lived to be 67—nearly twice the average life

    span at the time—and his longevity may well have been due to his diet, which is reconstructed here complete with his notes on ingredients, portions, cooking, drinking, and what might have been the kitchen inventions. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Time based grill—various gears would move in various tempo. Right: Illustration of a lamb
  7. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Person rolling dough Right: Giant Whisk,

    operated from within—with driver in constant fear of drowning in the custard Leonardo’s notebooks on culinary affairs ooze with so much irony that he probably wanted them inaccessible, a possible reason why the maestro wrote them backwards; an awkward practice common to all his handwritten documents. Amusingly, a menu designed by Leonardo and Botticelli for a Florence tavern was so illegible that, despite the proportioned figures drawn by the latter, neither clients nor cooks were able to interpret it.
  8. Leonardo is considered a genius for all seasons and his

    notebooks also show that he was a tireless worker and that he kept everything under observation, his senses on the alert in order to improve objects and daily routines. This openness to the external world, to how things work and how can they be improved, is the basis of innovation and a desirable attitude for all managers. Intelligence without a constant disposition to improve practical things may become a useless asset. Leonardo Da Vinci Left-handed corkscrew invented before he set to work to find out how to insert corks into bottles. At this time, bottles were sealed with wax.
  9. On new devices for the Kitchen Leonardo’s notes of to-do-things

    and new objects to be designed, combined with his characteristic drawings, raise reader’s affection and admiration. In one of the notes, “the new machines that I have yet to design for my kitchens”, he announces his intention to develop different devices “to pluck ducks, cut pigs into small cubes, knead bread, grind meat and press sheep”. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Garlic Press. The word for garlic press in Italian is until this day Leonardo Right: Old Garlic Press, hammering and trowing the garlic bulbs was the method used before his invention.
  10. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Revolutionary sideboard, with containers for iced

    wine and juice and a hot plate in the center Right: Automatic roaster - the fan in the chimney is turned by hot air from the fire below One of the notes deals with one of the first accounts of how freezing preserves food. He tells about a person called Leoni Buillarotti who every year took hundreds of frogs to Lake Trasimeno before it froze and then cut pieces of the ice with the frogs inside and kept them in a cold place. According to Leonardo, the frog’s legs cooked by Buillarotti were one of the most demanded exquisite delicacies of the time.
  11. Leonardo Da Vinci Left: Primitive way of cracking nuts—placing a

    nut at the end of a whip and trashing it against the ground. Right: Spring press operated by three horses to crack nuts On how to seat people at the table One of the book’s most amazing pieces is the note on how to seat murderers at the table: “If there is a murderer invited for lunch, it is most decent that he takes the next seat to he who will become the target of his craft (on his right or left, depending on the method that the murderer uses). This way, the murder won’t interrupt the ongoing conversation at the table”. It seems that luncheons were preferred occasions for murdering those days in Firenze, given the number of notes devoted by Leonardo on how to clean blood from a tablecloth, or how poison tasters should proceed.
  12. Leonardo Da Vinci Design for folding of table napkins in

    shape of birds, flowers, and palaces. Leonardo is attributed to have introduced the use of napkins.
  13. Leonardo Da Vinci Revolving napkins drier As recorded in one

    of his notes: “An alternative to dirty table clothes” –apparently, guests used to clean themselves with the same tablecloth.
  14. On manners at lunch A really hilarious note is the

    one describing “indecent behaviors at my Master’s table”: • “Nobody should seat on the table, nor show his back to the table, nor on the lap of another guest”. • “Nobody should take food from another’s guest plate, unless he first asks for permission”. • “Nobody should clean his knife with his neighbor’s clothes”. • “Nobody should take food from the table and put it in his pocket for later consumption”. • “Nobody should pinch or beat his table neighbor”. The list of recommendations continues. Indeed, a note that could be used in toast if you look to provoke laughter from your audience. Had Leonardo lived in our days, I am sure he would have become an active blogger though I wonder whether he would have developed his own software to write backwards.