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Artusi, the numbers of success

By 11/03/2020April 23rd, 2020No Comments

200 years ago, the author of the best seller on Italian cuisine was born, and he never mentioned the hot pepper 

A lot has been said about his masterpiece and we won’t stop. Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well have united the kitchens of our country. The book was born in 1891 and until 1911, the year of Artusi’s death, he edited 15 editions, each one with some updates. In its pages we find 790 recipes ranging from soups to broths; from appetizers (called Principii), to pastas; from fried to Trasmessi (they are the “entremets”, French dishes of minor importance that are served between courses); from fish to roasts and then the side dishes, which we find in the section called “Herbs and legumes”, desserts, ice cream and liqueurs. In short, an orderly encyclopaedia of Italian cuisine. The volume contains more than 154,503 words in which Artusi not only lists recipes, but “communicates” to the reader with advice, “in humility”, on hygiene and pleasure. Thus, we can read in his Preface: “The kitchen is a little rascal; repeatedly and often leads you to despair, but it also gives pleasure, because those times that you succeed or that you have overcome a difficulty, you feel complacency and claim victory “. To “claim victory” and extricate ourselves in the kitchen, in the text we find the word butter 866 times; broth 332; meat 304, fish instead 181. Soups and soup 189 times, while spaghetti only 25. With the term pepper we reach 387 but there is no record of hot pepper. Pellegrino Artusi saw the success of his book very late and with great difficulty, which then reached 35 editions with 283 thousand copies sold. He was also prophetic by predicting to the interest that gastronomy would have inspire in the public: “there will be a day, and it is not far away, that the writings of this kind will be more sought after and read; indeed, those that bring delight to the mind and give pasture to the body, rather than the great scientists works, much more useful to humanity”.

Two centuries later, we can say that he was completely right. In recent years, we have witnessed a progressive growth of television programs, magazines, cookbooks and chefs. If we asked around the names of the most important Italian astronauts of recent times, perhaps people wouldn’t know the answer. Certainly, everyone would be able to list the major television programs and the most popular chefs of the moment.

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