History of Parma Cuisine
Footnotes to Parmesan Gastronomy
"Parma cuisine at Caprarola"
When Cardinal Farnese, elected Pope Paul III, built the famous palace at Caprarola in 1547, he commissioned his nobleman and favorite, Annibal Caro, to set the themes to be used in the decorations and frescoes throughout the residence. But because Annibal Caro was a discerning gourmet as well as a cultured humanist, he was also given the task of overseeing the construction of the kitchen that was to transport the glories of Parma cuisine to the Lazio region.
In order to build this temple to Farnese culinary culture, the surrounding rock was excavated to house the kitchens, pantries, ovens, preparation areas, flour mills and all else. These kitchen areas were the marvel of their day and it is said that the Archbishop of Milan, St. Carlo Borromeo, after having visited them, said to the Cardinal, "What must Paradise be? Oh! Perhaps it would have been better to give all the money spent here to the poor."
To this Cardinal Farnese shrewdly responded: "No, not at all, Your Excellency. I did give that money to the poor, but just a little a time and in such a way as they had to earn it with their sweat, and it was better so."
From G. Gonizzi, Le memorie del Ciambellano. Storie di cucina nel Ducato. I, in Parma Capitale Alimentare, 43, 2000, pp 45-61.
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