Thursday, September 11, 2008

Food Related Painting of the Week

Vincenzo Campi, Cremona, Italy
ca. 1580

Kitchen, Oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
(from the Web Gallery of Art)

This painting is one of my favorites. Being from around 1580, it's pretty late to be considered "medieval", but a lot of information relevant to medieval cooking can still be inferred from it. There are so many things here to look at that it's hard to know where to start.

In the upper center at the table, a woman is about to put the top crust on a pie. Notice the sloped sides of the pie pan? Other than it's larger size, it's pretty much the same as the average modern pan - complete with the lip around the edge. I love how she's got the dough for the crust rolled around the pin. That's how my grandmother always did it too.

Next to her to the left, another woman look like she's kneading some dough. The table surface in front of her has been floured. She could be making bread, but that was usually done earlier in the day so I'll guess that it's another pie/tart crust.

To the right of these two, the woman in green doing something to some pasties on the sideboard. I suspect that the dish visible under her right arm is a bowl of egg yolks or the like, which would mean she's painting the pasties, possibly before baking them. This would also explain why two of the pasties are golden colored and the other two are white.

In front of her, the woman in the blue apron is grating something. It could be cheese, but given the odd shape (it looks smooshy to me) I'd say it's bread.

Then there are all the other busy folk. The men are butchering/dressing a carcass - probably a calf by the look of the hoof, but it might be a sheep. The old woman is using a large mortar and pestle. The odd-looking guy on the far right is putting poultry and game birds on a spit for roasting. The woman in yellow in the foreground is happily pulling the entrails out of a chicken.

And of course, the child on the left is blowing up the bladder from the carcass behind him.

There's a lot more, of course: bowls, plates, pots, pans, knives, furniture, fire irons. Oh, and I suppose you could look at the clothing ... if you're into that sort of thing.

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