The Triumph of Aesthetics
“Court dining in Turin between the late Sixteenth century and the early Eighteenth century is rich in triumphs, sculptures and allegorical scenes of sugar and pasta, fish swimming in gelatine lakes, game birds and animals cooked and cloaked in their own plumage and fur, fountains of odoriferous waters, fruit of every season, sweets and marmalades, all in a continuous and wearying competition with nature, with the ever-present accompaniment of music, verses and dance” (Franca Varallo, “Court dining between the Sixteenth and Eighteenth centuries”).
Italian haute cuisine of the Seventeenth century remains in its medieval inspired assumptions: alimentary pasta such as tortelletti, ravioli, gnocchi and other “maccaroni” are consolidated in the court menus; to be followed by the generous use of spices – cinnamon, pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg - whose quantity in the banquet measures the richness and power of the host, like sugar, another “status symbol”; sweet and sour and all roasted meats like peacocks, capons, pullets, game birds, generally de-boned and enclosed in pies or en croute. Countless dishes made with liver, spleen, intestines, tripe, kidneys, tongue or sweetbreads, and fish offal. The sauces are made from fruit or aromatic herbs, flavoured with sour juices and spices. Heavy use of butter, cream, cheeses of every type eaten in their natural state or sprinkled with sugar. The art of confectionary or pastry production uses refined techniques of skilled artisans. Between the Seventeenth century and Eighteenth-century coffee, tea and chocolate begin to be used daily and the production of wine and liquor is perfected: leading to Champagne, Ratafià and Port.
Corn and potatoes from the New World are presented on local tables.