The Age of the Renaissance
In the first ten years of the 1500’s Florence was troubled by political events that were concluded in 1529 with the one and only true seige of its history by the action of the Emperor Charles V.
Pope Clement VII (Medici) succeeded in keeping the Signoria of Florence for his natural son Alessandro, who in 1531 entered the city with the official title of “Duke of Florence”.
He - violent and dissolute - introduced into the palace of Via Larga, affected and sophisticated cooking from other Italian courts: his lunches remain famous for their luxuriousness, abundance, the waste and the exaggerated choreography that characterised them.
Meat, game, fish, sliced cold meats triumphed, and a great abundance of sauces and savouries: green sauces, dolceforte, peposa, agresto, pine kernels and of truffles.
Regarding the choreography it is enough to think of - as narrated by Vasari - who founded the “Company of the Paiolo” and joining with twelve other artists (one of which was Andrea del Sarto) the purpose of which was to prepare a lavish and spectacular table with dishes that would amaze the participants of the banquet, and they did not leave out the poets (Benedetto Varchi, the Firenzuola and Lasca) who dedicated rhymes of praise to the omelettes, the sausages, the melons, to the soups and other foods.
Of the Company of the Paiuolo, writes the historian Giuseppe Conti who in 1902, published by the editors Bemporad, a volume “Facts and ancedotes of Florentine history”.
“The Company founded by Rustici was that of the Paiuolo. The Company of Paiuolo was composed of a party of gentlemen who gathered in the room of the Sapienza. At the dinners and to pass the time each of the twelve members conducted no more than four people; and everyone was obliged to bring a dinner of his own invention; and if there was found two who had had the same idea, they were given a punishment at the pleasure of the Signore, who was the leader. He would then collect the dishes that were brought and redistribute them as he liked.
As soon as he had formed the Company of the Paiuolo, Giovan Francesco Rustici gave a dinner to his companions; and to justify the title, brought into the room a vat, that was attached to the ceiling by a large handle held there by a iron hook, the room was painted and curtains hung to add to the effect of them being in an enormous paiuolo (pot).
The companions who had just arrived on the threshold were surprised and applauded this strange sight; and entering began to laugh like crazy at the vat, where inside were seats and in the middle a table. From the ceiling, attached by a handle, was hung a chandelier, that lighted the inside of the paiuolo. When they were all seated, the table opened and there appeared a tree with many branches on which were ingenuously placed two dishes of the main course for everyone of the invited. The tree disappeared when the first dishes were finished, and reappeared with others. Around the paiuolo were servants, who poured vintage wines...”