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by Fred McMillin
Lorenzo The MagnificentBorn April 8, 1449
Died April 9, 1492
Lorenzo de' Medici almost died in 1478, not 1492. Worshipping in a cathedral with his younger, 25-year-old brother, Giuliano, jealous conspirators lept on the two. Giuliano was killed. Lorenzo escaped...
...Euginio Pucci, The Medici, Glory of the World
The Rest of the Story
The leader of the Republic of Florence went on to become the most important Medici of the Italian Renaissance. While better known for his political achievements, his interests included gastronomy. Waverley Root tells us that the first cooking academy since Roman times was established in Florence. It was called the Company of the Cauldron; each member had to create a new dish for every meeting. Lorenzo composed songs honoring the pastry chefs and olive oil makers.
As for wine, many palaces had a small window on the ground floor where the public could purchase wine. Sales were mostly of still wine, "but a contemporary writer reports the serving of a sparkling wine at a banquet," a rare event. (This is long before Dom Perignon developed sparkling Champagne in France.) Now what do we eat with our sparkling wine toast tonight to Lorenzo?
Food in Florence
The early occupants of Tuscany were the Etruscans, who ate only a morning and an evening meal. Renaissance Florentines did the same. A favorite was fegatelli, a thin pancake stuffed with chopped liver. An inexpensive, popular Italian bubbly to sip with it would be Martini and Rossi Asti. However, we covered that in "Luigi's Legacy", Nov. 7, 1997 WineDay. So, instead we'll pop open an American sparkler from the state of Michigan that scored well in my latest tasting.
NV Brut Sparkler by L. Mawby
Back to Lorenzo..."who opened his house to many artists." One started his career there, and "was indeed treated almost as a son." You've heard of him. His name was Michelangelo! (E. Pucci)
Important Credit: The Food of Italy, Waverley Root, Atheneum, 1971
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