Other displays contained books. I paused in front of an illustration to study lumps of meat being cooked over an open flame on a 16th-century rotisserie; in the adjacent picture, Italian men were eating at a banquet table. These sketches adorn the cover of one of the oldest cookbooks on display in the museum, Il Trinciante, written by Vincenzo Cervio in 1593. The author was a trinity, or Carver, for the Italian Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Cervio’s 74-chapter work shows how to precisely cut fish, pies, fruit and vegetables, and most importantly, meat and poultry such as pork, chicken, turkey, pheasant, and peacock. Detailed drawings indicate Cervio’s preferred cutting points to ensure succulent and tasty cuts.
Il Trinciante is one of 120 cookbooks in the Museo della Cucina, a museum opening in May 2022 that will be the first in the city to focus on the history of food and cooking. Since the first mass-printed cookbook was published nearly 550 years ago, many Italian recipes have been all but lost, hibernating in ancient texts hidden in vaults, said the museum’s director, Matteo Ghirighini. The Museo della Cucina wants to counteract this. His 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 Academymeanwhile, the museum will help grow rare ingredients and perfect neglected recipes once reserved for kings.
When I got a glimpse of the museum in November 2021, it was preparing to open. I came across this by accident. Rome is so full of extraordinary sights that it’s easy to miss monumental churches and the remains of 2,000-year-old palaces, not to mention a culinary museum yet to open.
But the Museo della Cucina was already included in Google Maps. And when I used my phone’s GPS, I noticed his listing. What initially caught my interest was its remarkable location. The museum is nestled between two of Rome’s most important historical sites – the 2,600-year-old Circus Maximus Stadium and the Palatine Hill on which Rome was founded and which is covered by the remains of ancient palaces and temples.