Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Medici feast for a taste of the Italian Renaissance. Follow the traditions of the Renaissance tables of the Medici who introduced the concept of the well laid table to the people of Florence. Dinner with the Medici would be served in several courses and include roasted meats of game or fowl like capon, pigeon or peacock. Pine nuts and raisins were common in Italian Renaissance cooking and were used in both sweet and savory dishes. Tarts, custards and puddings made with cherries sweetened with wine were popular. There would be no tomatoes, peppers, kidney beans, turkey or potatoes! These ingredients native to the Americas were not yet known in Europe.
The Medici’s epicurean tastes were transferred to France when Catherine de’ Medici wed King Henry II, bringing with her Italian cooks, recipes and the fork! Her influence reputedly reformed the antique style of French medieval cooking and gave rise to the science and art of cooking practiced today. Here is a recipe for a historically delicious salad written of in history books as Catherine de’ Medici’s favorite salad.
Insalata di Caterina
Wash and dry well a variety of mixed salad greens and place in a large wooden bowl. Toss with a few pieces of Pecorino Toscano (a soft sheep’s milk cheese), anchovy fillets packed in oil and a few capers. Make a dressing using the best Italian extra virgin olive oil you can find, red wine vinegar, coarse ground salt and pepper. Garnish with wedges of hard-boiled egg,