LANCELLOTTI, Vittorio Lo scalco prattico

Rome, Francesco Corbelletti, 1627


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. (8), 300. Roman letter, a little Italic; dedicatee’s arms engraved on title, decorated initials, typographical head- and tail-pieces; lightly foxed, some leaves aged browned, tiny marginal wormholes at foot of gathering P and Q, old repairs to blank lower outer corner of title. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, original endpapers; a little stained and rubbed, two small cracks to spine; reader’s or bookseller’s annotation by nearly contemporary Italian hand ‘È da vedere’ (‘To be read/collated’).

Rare first edition of a masterpiece of Italian cuisine in early modern times. Born in Camerino, Vittorio Lancellotti was a respected butler in the service of Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini, nephew of Pope Clement VIII and dedicatee of this book, and other high-ranking prelates of the Roman Curia, including Ippolito’s uncle Pietro Aldobrandini and Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In the Scalco prattico, Lancellotti described the numerous lavish banquets he supervised at either family or state occasions, with detailed recipes and reports of the service. These celebratory meals usually consist of no less than six round of multiple courses, with cold and hot fresh dishes (including ‘Pasticci all’Inglese’) and stored sweets and savouries.

The book is divided monthly, dispensing advice for seasonal culinary preparations. Particularly rich and impressive was the party organised in 1622 for the wedding of Prince Aldobrandini and Ippolita Ludovisi, niece of the reigning pope Gregory XIV. After a never-ending first round of dishes (out of twelve), the couple was presented with a magnificent statue of marzipan representing Atlas shouldering the Earth with their coat of arms nestled in it.

‘Ce livre fait connaitre le luxe culinaire des prèlats romains au commencement du XVII siècle …’ Brunet, III, 808.

‘Il più originale trattato di scalcheria tra quelli dei numerosi scalchi che in questo secolo operano presso le corti cardinalizie romane.’ C. Benporat, Storia della gastronomia italiana, Milan 1990, p. 195.

Very rare. No recorded copies in the US. Not in Bitting. BM STC It. 17th, 465; Nataker, 912; Oberlé, 530; Paleari Henssler, 412; Simon, 941; Vicaire, 490-491; Westbury, 127; Drexel, 236.
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