A Discussion of Pellegrino Artusi at the New School
March 28, 2011
Mention Escoffier at a dinner party and most people, even those who don’t count themselves among the food-obsessed, will likely know you are referring to the great French chef who streamlined the professional kitchen and codified French cuisine. But bring up the name Artusi and you’ll get stares. And yet Pellegrino Artusi and his influential cookbook La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well) helped shape what has become the world’s favorite thing to eat: Italian food. Self-published in 1891, Artusi, as the book is commonly known, was groundbreaking in many ways. First, it was written in Italian, the newly official language of the new country that few Italians, except those in Tuscany whose dialect it was based on, spoke. Second, it was an attempt to produce a single compendium of dishes from the many diverse regions that had recently been unified, each with its own culinary practices and preferences. Unlike Escoffier, Artusi wasn’t a professional chef. He was a wealthy silk merchant. He grew up in the region of Romagna and made his career in Tuscany. He probably didn’t cook much at all. But he traveled, he liked people, he loved food, and, like James Beard, he knew the power food has to bring people together. On the centenary of Artusi’s death, Thursday, March 31, join James Beard Foundation vice president Mitchell Davis and a panel of distinguished experts at the New School for Culinary Luminaires: Pellegrino Artusi, the First Italian Cookbook Author. Following the panel, the Foundation welcomes JBF Award winner Marc Vetri and his team of chefs into Giacomo Beard’s kitchen for a celebration of the Art of Pellegrino Artusi.