Leonardo da Vinci


Great Mind

In keeping up with my interest in Italian food and culture I decided to write this article about one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance.  Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was born in Vinci, Florence on April 15, 1452 illegitimately to Ser Piero di Antonio da Vinci and a peasant woman named Caterina.

His body of work encompass paintings, sketches, sculptures and inventions that truly epitomizes the idealism of the Renaissance.  His  "Last Supper" (1495-97) and "Mona Lisa" (1503-06) were among the most influential paintings of their time. At the age of fifteen, Da Vinci began studying under the renown Florentine painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio.  There he  developed his artistic ability and began incorporating his passion for science and anatomy into all of his works which differentiated him from other artists of his time.

As far as food is concerned, not much has been written on Da Vinci's eating habits, though some of his writings indicate he may have been a vegetarian.   There has always been discussions as to what was served at the Last Supper.  According to Da Vinci's "Last Supper",  there was plenty of bread, wine and fish and some say looks like  a plate full of eel with oranges.  This is  something Christ may not have eaten but it was a popular meal during the Renaissance period.

Many of us don't realize it, but due to Da Vinci's inventiveness, he has contributed a few things to cooking.  In the "Codex Leicester", which is one of Da Vinci's few remaining notebooks (owned by Microsoft's  Bill Gates), there are descriptions of a design for a meat roasting jack or in todays terms a rotisserie.  This is just one of many ideas he had that  have developed into modern day cooking techniques.

Leonardo Da Vinci died in the year 1518 under the care of the King of France, Francis I, who truly admired him.  He is remembered as one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth.  A true  Renaissance man who evokes pride and honor within all Italian communities.

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