The Medieval Pie

In the 14th century the table of the noblemen and the rich merchants of Tuscany became so opulent to force authorities to regulate the number of presents at the banquets and the number of the courses, with very detailed laws called “leggi suntuarie” (sumptuary laws)..

Imagine that in the luxurious banquets of that age, the various courses of meat (chickens, ducks, partridges, pheasants, porches, hams, sausages, fish …) were accompanied by salsas including not only spices (useful often to cover the bad flavor of not well preserved meats), but also gems, gold and pearls.

The way to skip the sumptuary laws, which didn’t allow more than three courses in a meal, can be found in a “Recopies book” of the XIV century.

The recipe of “La Torta” (the pie) was including pork meat, ham, sausages, onions, dates, almonds, flour, cheese, eggs, sugar, salt, parsley, saffron and other spices.

After frying the chickens into olive oil and after making ham ravioli, they put them with sausages on a sheet of dough, than they alternated layers of almonds and dates over layers of cheese and eggs mixed with salsas. The whole pie was coated with dough and cooked under the hot embers.

Traditional Italian cookery is certainly more inspired to the simple dishes of the farmer’s table rather than the sumptuous preparations of middle-age merchants’ tables; however some Renaissance recipes (wonderful are the ones telling how to prepare meat with fruit salsas) show the link and the influence of the old habits of the 1400 cuisine.