I want to start my first article with a reflection on the now historic sentence of our undersecretary at the Ministry of Economy Laura Castelli who, a few weeks ago, said: “Restaurateurs without customers? Reinvent yourself a profession ". It sure was a joke. Because there is nothing to reinvent because, at least since we have adequate evidence, the art of cooking has continually evolved. And in parallel the Catering.
The oldest public catering model known to us was the taberna, a term that united a series of different places and all of them not very recommendable, from those intended, in addition to the administration of cheap food, to the pouring of wine (cauponae, popinae, thermopolia, gurgustia that they were), but also overnight. The bad reputation of these meeting places of people of different social classes and different countries naturally extended to their managers, despised and often accused of dishonest or even infamous actions, especially in times of famine.
Next to these the lixae, the counters (if necessary protected by awnings) on which the street vendors displayed their food. Even in the Middle Ages, not only could you buy or consume food and drinks there but, if necessary, stay if there were rooms available for foreigners (who were the only ones who could remain at the tables after the strictly imposed closing time. by the sound of the bell).
Large or small, humble or well-equipped, well-known or infamous, taverns dotted not only the cities, but also the transit roads and villages, because the travelers were numerous and almost all with the need to enjoy food and hospitality low price.
Nor were they missing (and it street food has collected the inheritance) the "mobile" taverns: wagons that could stop in places deemed suitable for setting up tables and stools to sell their products. In the end it was "tavern food" anything that was inexpensive, easy to find, simple to prepare, and suitable to stimulate thirst.
In medieval cities, taverns were places of refreshment, cheap sex, gambling especially for the lower classes. But the nobles also stopped on the transit routes. Cecco Angiolieri he frequented them because "the woman, the tavern and the nut" were the only things that made him "happy to hear". The Magnificent Lorenzo alternated the crude but tasty cuisine ofOsteria delle Bertucce to the richly spiced one of the palace chefs. Pietro Aretino, he stated that "Whoever has not been to the tavern does not know what paradise it is ... O holy tavern, or miraculous tavern ... for the expeditions that turn around for themselves ... embroidered with thrushes, partridges and capons".
Disreputable places, equipped aristocratic kitchens, monasteries ... the first restaurants were very different, in which the transition to elegant environments where you could eat well was made. A slow but unstoppable transformation that took place in France (which by now had outclassed Italy in terms of variety, genuineness, refinement of food). Already at the time of Sun King by some cabarets the food could be served on elegant trays to the carriages and certain taverns were frequented by nobles such as the famous marquis de Béchamel.
But it was only in 1765 that, challenging the hostility of the guilds of bakers, hosts and tractors, such Baker, owner of a broth (where only the sale of broth and boiled meat was allowed), he ventured a more complete menu to the cry of "Venez, tous, et je vous restaurerai" (Come, I will refresh you), an invitation to refreshment suitable for all budgets. The 'restaurant' was born that would pave the way for the luxury ones, opened by the chefs of the great families who were unemployed after the decimation following the 1789 Revolution. Café Hardy he anticipated self-service by serving 'breakfasts on the fork' to hasty politicians.
And then again inventions and reinventions, with kitchen brigades which resume the division of tasks already meticulously described and observed between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, or the services 'Russian style', 'English' and more recently 'American', which repeat with few variations the schemes used with other names in in the past, attention to the presentation of food on the plate or tray, today reaffirmed in some well-known Italian and foreign television productions.
Nihil novi sub sole, (there is nothing new under the sun) in short, despite the wealth and variety of today's venues where the offer is characterized by an amazing variety of cuisines: traditional, revisited, ethnic, fusion, vegan, molecular ... and so on and so forth, put more. Just as an illusion is that of having recently discovered the market cuisine based on fresh and quality products, already recommended in ancient texts. Because the concept of 'healthy eating', already present in the volumes of Roman agronomists such as Columella, was widely exposed in medieval "Tacuina sanitatis" and in the works of mysticism Ildegerda of Bingen, by the humanist Platinum, of the doctors of the sixteenth century.
It is true that in them the evaluation parameters of the right relationship between food and individual were radically different from those of today, as was the so-called 'food pyramid'. However, the court cooks, who with the doctors were responsible for the welfare of their lord and his family, possessed a vast knowledge of what, how and in what proportions it should be prepared so as not to cause 'harm' if not to promote the recovery of health ...
So, how to reinvent yourself?