This year, in many ways ominous, the seven hundred years of the death of Dante Alighieri, Florentine. I like to remember him not for his lofty poetry, profound culture, boundless imagination, political courage, but as a man of his time, who lived daily customs, hardships and passions.
Young people today often find it incomprehensible and obsolete, pigeonholed as it is between stylnovistic rules, political functions, judgments and feelings based on different scales of values, vices such as pride, envy and avarice that no longer seem such. Dante, however, was a man, of his time yes, but a man who made politics, he moved from court to court between Florence, Rome, perhaps Naples, Venice, Lunigiana and the Adriatic coast, he was moved by the "tremolar of the navy ”, The sunrises and sunsets, the starry sky and the dense forests full of darkness and danger. He loved and dreamed of a fairer, more equitable world, he experienced disappointments, bitterness and loneliness, ignored in life by the "citizens of the city of the game" who today exalt and claim it.
So let's look at it from a different angle, asking ourselves what what he liked to eat and what the table of his time offered, that table around which the ancient chroniclers ignited the first sparks of the terrible conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines first, then between Whites and Blacks. The table therefore not only as an opportunity to forge alliances, contract weddings, celebrate important events, but as a place for betrayals, vendettas and crimes. The story is dotted with similar massacres, which inspired some episodes of Games of thrones, George Martin's well-known fantasy. From the Atridi to the Baglioni of Perugia, to the Borgias, to the massacres of the Scottish clans of Douglas and Campbells, the laws of hospitality were continually broken with swords and poisons. At the table, surely, one did not age.
But what did Dante eat? He does not tell us, and yet remembers the “rich costuma del carnation", The spice that, together with all the others, contributed not only to making meat tasteless due to preservation methods and double cooking at the time in use, but to balance moods and establish a relationship between man and the cosmos through a skilful dosage of flavors, smells and colors. And the precious ones eels di Bolsena, those indefatigable fish that migrate from the Sargasso Sea to us, where they risk extinction due to the uncontrolled poaching they are subjected to. And the bread, seasoned with the pain of those who know they have been unjustly banished, on pain of death, from their city.
Our column instead wants to conclude with a pleasant story about his prodigious memory and, above all, about his tastes at the table. It is said, in fact, that one summer evening when the Poet sat enjoying the coolness on a stone next to the ancient Florentine cathedral of Santa Reparata (the "Sasso di Dante" today indicated by a plaque), an unknown, as he passed him, he asked him which was the most delicious morsel for him. "A eggWas the laconic reply. A year passed and, to Dante who was sitting at the same time on the same stone, that man, passing by there stopped and: "How?" he asked him: "With salt" was the immediate answer.